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navvies volunteers restoring


Summer camps: book now! Cleanup report and pictures

waterway recovery group

Issue No 229 June-July 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.

Di Smurthwaite

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

Martin Ludgate

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 page 2

Contents In this issue...

Chairman translators wanted! 4-5 WRGWear buy your WRG logo clothing 6 Coming soon canal camps preview 7-9 Little Venice Cavalcade report 10-11 Camp report Easter on the W&B 12-15 Cleanup report from the BCN 16-19 Training weekend report and pics 20-21 Diary canal camps and weekend digs 22-24 Letters Barn Dance and pressurewashing 25 Progress including Dig Deep update 26-32 Beginners guide to canal history 33 Obituaries two WRG stalwarts 34-35 London WRG on the Thames & Severn36-37 Digital tachographs how to use them 38 WRGBC Boat Club news 39 Navvies news another new van! 40 Noticeboard sponsor the WRGbikes! 41 Infill introducing WRG’s agony aunt 42-43 Above: Wilts & Berks: progress on Steppingstones Bridge during the Easter camps (see camp report pages 10-13) Left: the Canalway Cavalcade crew (see report pages 10-11) Below: WRG North West on the Hollinwood Front cover: WRG Forestry’s Clive goes tree-climbing at the Training weekend Back cover main picture: Found on the Cleanup: a 60ft length of hose (see report pages 12-15) Inset: Eisey lock chamber on the Cotswold Canals awaits our attention (upper, photo by Bobby Silverwood) while London WRG start rebuilding the upper wing walls (lower) Uncredited photos by the Editor

Contributions... ...are always welcome, whether hand-written, typed, on CD-ROM, DVD or by email. Photos also welcome: digital, slides, prints. Please state whether you want your prints back. Digital pics are welcome as email attachments, preferably JPG format, but if you have a lot it is preferable to send them on CD-ROM or DVD or to contact the editor first. Contributions by post to the editor Martin Ludgate, 35, Silvester Road, London SE22 9PB, or by email to martin.ludgate@wrg.org.uk. Press date for issue 230: July 1st.

John Hawkins

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, kept low so that everyone can afford to subscribe. Please add a donation if you can.

all the latest news of WRG's activities page 3


MKP gets on his bike...

Have you got a big project needing labour and money in ’09? If so, we could help you!

Training 2009 The major event of the last month was the Training Weekend at Lichfield. This was very successful with loads of people being trained on dumpers, excavators, bricks, etc. but I have to admit that it rather enhanced our reputation for sorting things out at the last minute. This put a lot of stress on the instructors and especially the organiser Ali ‘Womble’ Bottomley. So my apologies to everyone who get a little frazzled, my grateful thanks to our hosts LHCRT and a promise that we have already started the planning for next year so it will be much more organised, with more information available a lot earlier. Oh and I’m not doing the travel instructions next year, which should help a lot. (Where did that new housing estate come from?). One change we are going to make straight away is to move it to a week later, as that will suit us all better. So May 16-17 2009 is a date you need to put into your diary right now.

Work 2009 On the subject of next year, we are after at least one fairly major project for 2009 and unusually for us, we may have some funding we can steer towards it. One reason we are trying to set this up is that we are finding many of our leaders are struggling to find the time to do all the preparation needed for individual camps. So if we can get one or two sites next year that can cope with 4 or 5 weeks of Camps it will take the strain of some of our leaders as it is always easier to take over from someone rather than having to set it up from scratch. So we will be announcing a “sort of” tendering process in the next IWA Head Office bulletin. If you have a project that could be a goer if only you could get some effort and some funding then perhaps we can help. It doesn’t mean that we are abandoning the weeklong standalone camps though, just that we might have a few less of them.

WRG bikes Last edition I said we would be entering a team for the sponsored bike ride around Droitwich in order to raise funds for the Barge Lock Appeal. Well we have got a team together, and we have a sponsorship site at www.justgiving.com/WRGbikes. So please give us a bit of incentive to hammer round the country lanes of Worcestershire and sponsor us now. Even your Navvies editor is getting on his bike, so please be generous. The Appeal total stands at an amazing £82K and that is before the proceeds of the race night have been added so its just possible that generous sponsorship for our efforts may well top it off.

Personal details Please note that the personal details, such as allergies and other medical details, that you give for centrally booked events (Canal Camps, BCN clean up etc) are not shared with the regional groups as it would just be too difficult to get all our organisers to have access to the system. So don’t assume that your working party leader knows all your details because Head Office has them. Regional groups have different ways of recording the details of their regular volunteers, and need to ensure their systems work - but clearly it also requires a certain element of personal responsibility. So please do make sure you’ve let your organiser know anything they need to know.

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Do you know the French for ‘The right tool for the right job’? If so, you could help us!

. .for the Droitwich Barge Lock Appeal

Jobs for the boys (and girls, obviously) Also last edition I mentioned the “nice to do but never manage it” jobs list and said it will be on the website. Well it is, now - sorry for the delay. Several people commented that I went on about what the jobs did not involve but didn’t give away too much about what they did involve. So the committee have asked me to profile some of them in the next few navvies so that people can see what we are talking about. So here is the first instalment: we need our standard Health and Safety induction talk translating into common foreign languages. This may seem incredibly trivial but, as a leader who has had foreign students on their camp, it would be very reassuring to be able to get on with running the camp knowing that everyone has had the same explanation of what’s required of them. And this is the reason why I picked this job first: all you have to do is download the English version of the talk from our website and translate it at your leisure. No boring committees or focus groups! You could even send it in anonymously if you want. So if you fancy a bit of French practice (or Italian, German, etc) then please get in touch.

Bye bye Finally the WRG board have to say goodbye to Helen Davey, who has decided to focus her time elsewhere. Of late Helen has been one of our ‘armchair directors’ that keep us on the straight and narrow from afar. However she was a major star for many years - particularly with regard to publicity - and we thank her for all her efforts and wish her well. Mike Palmer

Go WRGbikes! Sponsor them now: www.justgiving.com/wrgbikes

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Buy your WRG logo t-shirts, polo shirts, sweatshirts, fleeces and rugby shirts

Be properly dressed for your camp

WRGWear: the long-awaited update it’s been a while ... for various reasons ... but anyway you finally have an opportunity to order some wrgwear, some notes on the process: Firstly, I don’t know anything about the camps t-shirts (with the camp dates list on the back) - see Head Office for them. Secondly, WRG Wear works like this: someone places an order with me by filling in a form and posting a cheque, I order the item from Jancraft who print it and send it out, meanwhile I send your cheque off to be banked.  So please allow 28 days for delivery (I don’t always have regular access to my email or my post,  sometimes things have to be ordered by Jancraft etc etc).  The fact that we’re dealing with individual items also explains why things are a little more expensive than if we bulk ordered. Below is a form with a selection of our more popular items that you can fill in and send off.  The website will be back up and running soon (but possibly not by the time you read this - I’ll try), and when it is you will be able to download a copy of the form with the whole range.  If you can’t wait then, email me and I’ll send you a form. For any queries about WRGwear please contact wrgwear@wrg.org.uk, or call 07989 425346.  Orders should be sent to 33 Victoria Road, Northwich, CW9 5RE.  Head Office kindly pass on any queries about WRGwear but they won’t be able to help directly.  Please contact me if you haven’t received anything after 28 days - sometimes things do get lost in the post.  If you put your email address on the form I can confirm that I have received it. So fill this in (photocopy it if you can’t bear to part with a piece of Navvies), make your cheque payable to WRG Canal Camps and send it off to: 33 Victoria Road, Northwich, CW9 5RE. Helen Gardner Name _________________________ email_____________________________________________________ Address ____________________________________________________________ Phone_______________ Item                                               size (fill in no.) S M L XL XXL Printed t-shirt large WRG logo   red                         Printed t-shirt large WRG logo   black                                Printed t-shirt small WRG logo   red                               Printed t-shirt small WRG logo   black                               Printed polo-shirt small WRG logo   red                              Printed polo-shirt small WRG logo   black                           Embroidered polo-shirt small WRG logo red                   Embroidered polo-shirt small WRG logo black                      Printed sweatshirt small WRG logo   red                             Printed sweatshirt small WRG logo   black                    Printed sweatshirt small WRG logo   grey                           Embroidered sweatshirt small WRG logo   red               Embroidered sweatshirt small WRG logo   black                    Embroidered sweatshirt small WRG logo   grey                    Embroidered fleece red                                                   Embroidered fleece black                                                 Embroidered fleece navy                                                  Embroidered rugby shirt red                                                                       (Sizing quite big on these) S M-L XL Printed strappy vest tops (female)  Red                            Printed strappy vest tops (female)  Black                         

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Cost £8 £8 £8 £8 £10.50 £10.50 £11.50 £11.50 £13.50 £13.50 £13.50 £14.50 £14.50 £14.50 £23.50 £23.50 £23.50 £25.00 £7.50 £7.50 total cost:


Have you sent your booking form off for a summer canal camp yet? If not, why not?

What’s next?

Coming soon: summer canal camps

Canal Camps 2008 latest news

Martin Ludgate

Last time we gave you a rundown of what’s happening in the first part of this summer’s Canal Camps programme, so this time we’re concentrating on the second half, from the end of July onwards. But first we have a few updates on the early summer camps. And let’s get the bad news out of the way first: sadly we’ve had to cancel both of the Grand Western Canal camps, 200805 and 200807, which we were going to spend building a temporary clay dam to allow restoration of Lowdwells Lock. Unfortunately the partners in the project were unable to reach agreement on the design of the dam in a suitable timeframe to progress the project this summer, but revised plans are now being considered incorporating a temporary ‘portadam’. Local organisers are currently exploring the funding options for what promises to be an interesting project for next year. In the meantime rest assured that the October Grand Western Camp will not be affected as it’s on a different site at Nynehead and there will be more info about it next time. On to more positive things: we’ve confirmed who a few more leaders since the last update: James Butler and Mike Chase promise some fun, mud and concrete on camp 200804 on the Chesterfield Canal, while for the first Cotswold Canals camp on July 5-12 we have Harry Watts and Jenny Black in charge. It’s an attractive site in the Golden Valley, we’re working on restoring Gough’s Orchard Lock, and it’s important that we get a good turnout of volunteers for both the camps at this site, given the problems the Cotswold Canals are suffering as a result of British Waterways abandoning the project. We asked James drives his dumper past the Mon & Brec site Harry for some words... “There was I, meandering my way home after a couple of very nice pints in the Newman Arms when my phone rang and Martin, our lovely editor asked me for a Leader’s quote to put in Navvies. Well here it is... ‘Its going to lots of fun on the Cotswolds so come and join Jenny and me on a fun filled camp with just the odd Pimms thrown in for good measure.’ Right that’s the quote out of the way. Errrr.. I guess I should mention the work, well I reckon it’s 1 or more of 3 things, several may involve a bendy machine or two. We have a clearance at the head of the lock, or if the contractor has done his stuff a proper mucking-around-in-the-mud checking out the state of the lock, plenty of scope for a mud fight or two, plus there’s a leak to fix, not one of those dribbly tap things but a proper breach where we will go in and fix it, proper like! I know I’m going to have a top week and it’ll be really good to see some old and new faces there with me and Jenny. Go on and book now, you know you want to.” Moving on to the later part of the summer, and on July 19-26 we head for the Monmouthshire & Brecon Canals for Camp 200812 under the leadership of Rob Daffern and Rachel Bowers. We’re carrying on the good work from last year’s camps, restoring locks 3 and 4 of the Crumlin Arm to connect the restored section of canal at Malpas to the impressive Fourteen Locks flight which is under restoration thanks to a Heritage Lottery Fund grant. It’s an interesting project in a particularly attractive part of South Wales.

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What’s next?

Summer Canal Camps update

Booking forms available from www.wrg.org.uk, email enquiries@wrg.org.uk or ring head office on 01923 711114


The same week we return to the Basingstoke Canal for Camp 200813 with Ed Walker and Nigel Lee of London WRG at the helm. Ed says “We are promised a lot of quality work by the locals: five wing walls on the Deepcut flight have failed over the winter and require rebuilding. Cue WRG getting called in to do some demolition, block and brick laying, concrete, steel work, piling and machine work to get the canal open again. Accommodation is yet to be finalised but I’m sure it will be up to the usual great standard and we have Harri T (now Harri B - congrats!) to cook for us. The usual evening entertainments and boat trip will happen – it should be a great camp!” Our regional group WRG BITM continue the good work on Camp 200815 the following week. Also running from July 26 to August 2 is camp 200814, the second of four camps this summer on the Droitwich Canals, where WRG’s main project for this summer is to restore the Barge Lock in Vines Park Droitwich as part of the final push to get the whole canal open before the end of next year. ‘Teacher Chris’ Blaxland then picks up the reins for the second week there (camp 200816), by the end of which the lock should be well on the way to completion . And finally on the Droitwich we have Camp 200818 running from August 9 to 16, with leaders Martin Thompson and Rachel Banyard. “Come along and help finish off a fantastic project”, says Rachael, ”It will be the finale of four weeks of successful camps”. Meanwhile, starting on August 2 we have a fortnight’s work on the Montgomery Canal. Paul Shaw and Louise Gale will be ably manning the first week (Camp 200817), with Helen ‘Bushbaby’ Gardner, Mark ‘Mk2’ Richardson and Viv ‘I don’t have a daft nickname’ Watson doing some sort of leading/cooking combo during the second week (Camp 200819). Let’s hear from Helen about it: “Set in the pretty Welsh / Shropshire borders, the Mont was once a regular haunt for many a volunteer. WRG have already been heavily involved in the restoration of both Frankton and Aston Locks, and built a world-class nature reserve that now looks fantastic and has just been extended. In recent years WRG’s involvement has been kick started again and two successful camps were run last summer working at Redwith Bridge just beyond Gronwen Wharf, current limit of boating on the canal where another section has just been rewatered. Work this year will be planting the Aston nature reserve extension (plus some gate and stile work) and also retaining wall building in the dry section - so hopefully there will be something to keep everybody happy. (WE HAVE NO BRICK-CLEANING!)  The ‘local’ is a very competent and enthusiastic BW man who is looking forward to entertaining us again. Accommodation is across the Welsh border in the Church Hall at Aston Nature Reserve extension under construction. We’ll be Llanymynech with some putting in a different kind of ‘plant’ during the canal camp. alright pubs in the near

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”Some alright pubs, a local pool with fun features, a tripboat in the village... what more could you ask? That’s right - we have gin too”

What’s next?

...plus Saul Festival final call


vicinity. There is a local pool with ‘fun features’ (and that doesn’t include the lifeguards).  There’s even a trip boat right in the village with the best soundtrack I’ve ever heard on a trip boat.  What more could you ask for? That’s right - we have gin too.”  Back on the Cotswold Canals, our friends in NWPG are providing the leadership and several of the regular volunteers for Camp 200820 - but everyone is of course welcome. The site at Eisey Lock promises to be a good project with some traditional lock rebuilding work see Bill Nicholson’s Dig Deep Update on pages 24-25 and the back cover for a couple more pics. Finally as ever we end the season with a site services camp supporting The Inland Waterways Association’s National Waterways Festival, one of the world’s largest inland waterways events, which this year is taking place on a new site at Autherley Junction just outside Wolverhampton. Leader Dave Worthington gave us a full run-down last time, but here’s a final few words from him: “Well, as I write this, it’s only 3 months until the start of the National camp and I’ve already bought a new hat to keep the sun off! There are now loads of us going but there are still some familiar names missing off the list – yes, you know who you are. Send me a postcard, drop me a line, etc. – book with Miss Black, or at least let me know (dave.worthington@tiscali.co.uk). If you intend to bring a tent, caravan etc, and you haven’t yet told me, please do so NOW, before it gets too cosy! Come along and join in the revelries – Moose has promised to bring his gazebo to shelter us from the sun, so pack a comfy chair, a fancy hat (prizes may be on offer) and a supply of your favourite tipple.” So that’s it: for the latest news see www.wrg.org.uk and we look forward to seeing you on a camp somewhere this summer. Saul Festival needs volunteers: see below Martin Ludgate

Saul Festival - final call We’re still looking for volunteers to join WRG South West’s team who will be helping to run the Saul Canal Festival in Gloucestershire - a combined boat gathering, canal festival, major folk music event (‘Folk on the water’) and real ale extravaganza. Its purpose is to raise funds and support for the Cotswold Canals restoration - a project that certainly needs help at the moment, following British Waterways’ decision to pull out putting over £20m of restoration funding in jeopardy. And especially so, after last year’s event was cancelled due to flooding. So if you can spare a few days between Thursday July 1 and Wednesday July 9 to help to make this event the success that the Cotswold Canals Trust really needs, please do. The work will include all your usual favourite festivals jobs plus some extras such as building the bar and helping with floating theatre barge Sabrina. Have we tempted you? If so, either fill in the form in the last issue of Navvies, download a form from www.wrg.org.uk or contact George ‘Bungle’ Eycott on 07771 775745 or bungle@wrg.org.uk.

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Canalway Cavalcade Reporting from Little Venice

could not help wondering why we needed so many people. Now after several days I can understand, I’m knackered!” For those who think 20-24 people is plenty to run a festival, from that I had to find... . One for car park duty at various parts of day just to let traffic in and out . Two to three to do car marshalling around the site . On Saturday morning 22 market stalls had to be put together - and taken down on Monday evening. . Traders had to be shown to their spaces . Water space team had to go off playing with water and boaty things such as the Illuminated boats, boat handling course, the Pageant and so on . The bar staff, obviously they had to entice the odd person to drink the 23 barrels of beer (that’s about 1500 pints), the 34 bottles of wine, 264 bottles of cider. . Several people needed for the rubbish boat run

Been told by Martin the Editor to keep my report short! But first before I describe the festival at Little Venice, a few words about the late Jonathan ‘Tay’ Taylor: Before the Festival, I had received an email from Tay’s parents, asking if a picture or two could be taken of the festival bar, now called ‘Tay’s Bar’, this was done over various times of the festival such as early morning and once the bar was opened. For those who did not know Tay, you have missed out on someone who (very ironically because he died at such a young age) was full of life, and full of energy. Look in the last Navvies for more. The Festival opened on Saturday in glorious sunshine, and considering the miserable weather leading up to the weekend it was such a transformation that I think it caught a lot of people out. Tay’s bar opened and the entertainers performed. With the weather as it was, the Festival continued in a very good natured manner over the next couple of days. The Police on site had a cruise in a luxury(!!!) boat, and got a tour of the site by water. The Sergeant missed this so following day he and a couple of Constables had a trip around site in a boat called Lenny. [See p2 ...Ed] No doubt somewhere in Navvies it will be mentioned that London WRG won the Buckby Can prize for their entry in the pageant of boats. Well done. Helena, one of the volunteers this year, had never worked on a boat Festival before, and came out with the following comment (before we had started drinking I would like to add!) “Moose, when I arrived on Thursday, I 22 market stalls to set up

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All photos by Martin Ludgate

Canalway Cavalcade 2008

‘Moose’ describes the work involved in setting up and running London’s major canal festival...

“We need a blue light and siren”

Canalway Cavalcade

...and wonders if you might be tempted to help with something similar at Autherley in August?

Reporting from Little Venice

All the traders and my work site need electrics so Bungle, Malcolm and Bruce with Welsh Phil played with the electrics and also fitted new lights to the WRG Generator. In addition London WRG were doing their usual fundraising tombola and also involved with the Pageant. And before that they had to design and make the necessary props i.e. the painted cardboard boxes etc. And a couple of them were involved in running the boaters Quiz. Then we also had Mike H who was ‘Site One’, in charge of ordering all the kit, from Marquees to fencing (only 16 panels, not like a National!) and a Safety Officer, Maria who was acting as ‘Site Two’ (helping Mike H, ‘WRG 2’ ( helping me) and helping the cook if not cooking herself for the camp. And of course it included me, ‘WRG One’ and also the Chairman of the Cavalcade Committee, and a Safety Officer. By now you have probably either given up reading this... or you are wishing I would give up... or both! But all the above is what’s involved in the setup and the actual running of the festival. And I could go on about the take-down too - this year I was very lucky and had several people to help, but it is surprising how many people just disappear because work gets in the way! Little Venice is a much smaller event than the IWA National Festival, but it runs

along similar lines - if on a different scale. I had 16 fencing panels for Little Venice while the National might have 16 stacks of at least 40 panels each! So hopefully the list of work above will give you some more insight into the making of a festival - because I’m sure your National Leader David ‘Daddy Cool’ Worthington and his assistant the lovely Jenny Black would love all of you to take a trip to Wolverhampton to help the IWA National Waterways Festival site services camp on August 18-28. Dave ‘Moose’ Hearnden

Above: London WRG’s entry in the pageant featured ‘Ellie the Excavator’. Below: the pool at Little Venice crammed with boats, giving the event its special atmosphere (and making things interesting for the Waterspace team).

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Camp report

Easter on the Wilts & Berks

This year’s first Canal Camp began with a frantic search for any suitable accommodation...

bookings had had to drop out, one of whom - Alexandra Freudeman - arrived in London only to have to return to Germany as her father had been taken ill. The saga of our accommodation for the two On Monday the rest of the gang eagerly weeks’ camp proved to be a rather long plunged in (well, sort of - it had dried up a drawn out nightmare... bit) and (a) set up the Burco - have to get Step 1: Book Watchfield Village Hall our priorities right (b) Claire, Michael and (our usual accommodation). No problem Maggie brought bricks down the muddy track until they realised that Easter was not in the to site, (c) introduced Derek to dumper school holidays, so they cancelled our bookdriving, (d) Paul went down a hole to get ing one month before the camp. trenchfoot, whilst widening the trench for a Step 2: Phone round every village/ land-drain and for concrete backfill, (e) Rob parish/church hail in the area. No luck at started bricklaying on the SE wall to Debbie’s such short notice, also because it was term mixing, (f) Martin went off to a builders in time. Panic. Faringdon to pick up a large core drill to Step 3: Reserve Foxham Reading finish the remaining drain holes and (g) Mina Rooms, even though it would have meant a the dog had a great time renewing her acnearly 80 mile round trip every day to and quaintance with Steppingstone Lane Bridge. from site. We also sorted out some more scaffolding. Step 4: Martin remembered that a On the way back to the hall, we made use of brand new sports hall was being built in the showers at Lambourn Community & Watchfield, with showers. They assured us Leisure Centre, and got told off for bringing that it would be finished by the end of Febru- in too much of Steppingstone Lane with us... ary, so booked immediately. Relief. Tuesday saw us on site bright and Step 5: Phone call from Sports Hall early, and we quickly got things set up. manager. A pipe for the boiler had failed its Mortar was produced by Maggie and Debbie, test, and they couldn’t replace it for a month, while Derek and Rob were bricklaying, and so cancelled our booking. Panic again. Paul enticed Claire into his hole on the other Step 6: The local branch had no ideas, side of the bridge. Debbie tried her hand at so Martin trawled the internet, and came up dumper driving, and with Michael’s and Rachwith a village hail near Lambourn that could ael’s help brought a tonne of pea gravel down take us from Sunday. Still 15 miles from the track, which was now beginning to dry out worksite, but better than Foxham. Booked at last. Martin (now known as Red Van Man) quickly, and put start of camp back by a day went off on his travels again, collecting a site (fortuitously, as it turned out). level from home, and returning the core drill to We regretted missing the first Saturday, the hire company, before returning to site to until the RAINS STARTED. Pretty well nonscaffold for England! Various people were stop until Sunday afternoon, and driving up employed moving bricks around to satisfy on Sunday morning it looked as if the Cotsthe voracious appetites of the bricklayers. wold Water Park had extended its boundaThe North east side, which needed the most ries. There was even a brand new stream remedial action, was now coming up apace. pouring down the road outside the village Our D of E’ers Claire and Michael were showhall. It was not an auspicious start to the ing great enthusiasm for any task set them, camp, but we told ourselves that it could including painting the second coat of bituonly get better - and thanks to Him above, it men on the arch of the bridge and themactually did! selves. We went off to showers, making sure Unfortunately, two of the first week’s we left most of our mud behind.

Steppingstone Lane Bridge Wilts & Berks Canal March 16-29

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Maggie Eaton

On the Thursday, there was more bricklaying, and more concrete mixing, and more concrete mixing, and more concrete mixing. Red Van Man went off to get a compactor from the hire place to use over the weekend. Rachael - not content with getting the lurgy later, at this point had to shoot off to the dentist with not one, but two, abscesses under a newly filled tooth. The result was antibiotics, and no alcohol for five days. Despite all the casualties, we managed to get a team together to get off to Watchfield for pub quiz night, and beat the local “The voracious appetite of the bricklayers” branch, who had ambitiously called their team “Navvies”. On Wednesday, Paul and Martin set the We decided that next week we would call pipe in the trench for the drain on the south ourselves the “Real Navvies”. side of the bridge, and that was covered with Breakfast numbers were swelled on pea grit. Most of the team got together mak- Good Friday by the arrival of Paul 2, Julia ing dry mix concrete to fill in the hole above and Sophie, who had set off from their north the drain, while Rob and Derek continued west home at 3 am. With the sun shining with the brickwork on the NE wall. In the after torrential overnight rain, three happy afternoon, Martin got into the trench on the vans of campers set off to site. The sun north side of the bridge, and dug out the didn’t last. With Christmas well behind us, clay which had fallen in to get the base in for we didn’t realise that we were dreaming of a the drain trench, and more concrete was White Easter, but strong winds from the brought over by the team. north west (did Paul, Julia and Sophie bring The next day we were rather depleted it with them?) brought a near whiteout with on site as two had gone down with the snow and sleet, and everyone had to dive for dreaded lurgy, followed by one more by the brew hut. Red Van Man was despatched lunchtime. The lurgy was recently described to co-ordinate the delivery to the West Vale in a crossword clue as a mythical illness, but Branch of chestnut pale fencing donated by it feels incredibly real to those who are suffer- WRG NW, and generously transported down ing from it. Martin made enquiries in a local by Paul and Julia. Having offloaded the health centre, who confirmed that there was a fencing into the West Vale chairman’s drivebug going round, but it was a mystery how we way, the team proceeded to make safe the picked it up. Despite rigid hygiene practised slippery site pathways with granular material, both on site and in the accommodation, and transfer 40 bags of cement, a compactor people continued to contact the infection, plate and the day’s mixing water half a mile right until the last day of the two week camp, down the lane , which resembles the Somme even incubating it to the extent that Paul 2 on a good day. Mixing of the lean mix conwent down with it 36 hours after getting home! crete started with great gusto under now It seemed to last between 1 and 4 days, some blue skies and sunshine. Guess how many affected more than others. Fortunately, neither WRGies it takes to start a compactor? Comof us (Martin and Rachael) were affected at the petition ensued with a growing gathering to same time, so there was always a leader avail- watch the two M’s pondering starting the able! Despite this, most - even those feeling a “beast”. Time for a tea break. Amazingly, bit under the weather - chose to come to after this fortification, the two M’s fired up site, and it was astonishing how much work the “beast” first time and compaction of much got done in the circumstances. lean mix followed for the rest of the day.

page 13

Camp report

...but ended up doing a great deal of useful work on Steppingstone Lane Bridge

Easter on the Wilts & Berks

the rest of the team went off to work. Concreting continued over the arch, while broken bricks were used to build up the infill. More snow on Monday first thing, but fortunately it didn’t settle. Martin had his turn of being confined to bed, and Rachael, who had recovered, took over. Rob, our brickmaster, was back with us after a weekend with the National Trust, so he, John and the D of E’ers Rob Junior and Sarah carried on with bricklaying on the eastern side, with Eleanor and Julia doing the mixing. Martyn manned the bricksaw to help cut down the protruding bricks on the western side, which Alan tidied up with hammer and bolster, and Martyn also cut the bricks for the 1 in 12 slope on the eastern side. Meanwhile, the rest were involved in moving old bricks and clay into the area between the spandrel walls to build up the path, which was then compacted by Navy Bryan using the compactor plate. Bryan had spent two days whacking away, and his muscles were complaining by the end of the day. Sod’s Law that every time we stopped for a break, it either rained or hailed or both. All the same, a satisfyng day. On Tuesday, for the second day running, the switch failed on one of the mixers, and Rachael took over as Red Van Woman to go off to Rapid Hire and get a new switch. The brickwork on both John’s and Rob’s sections had seen considerable progress, and a lot of bricks had been cut - John was actually able to start putting in the corbels. A lot of broken bricks had been put in the hole on the N side, bringing it up to Paul and Claire widening the trench... the level where the next Maggie Eaton

Claire, Michael and Paul had their turn in taming the beast without demolishing the bridge in the process! Waterproofing the bridge arch continued with asphaltic compound in advance of the concrete fill. Happiness is truly bridge-shaped! On Saturday, the first weekers went home, while 7 Easter stopovers went off to site, to be joined by John Hawkins and Navy Bryan. Others arrived at the hall, so by teatime we were up to 18, The site workers cracked on with the concrete cap. After the safety talk and tea, we adjourned to the Social Club next door, where we found that we had a pool-sharp in our midst. Sunday proved that we really did have a White Easter, and some were asking if we could go out and build snowmen rather than go to site. The blizzard streaked past the windows during breakfast, and our hearts sank. It slowed down after a couple of hours, and a few went off to see if it was possible to do anything on site. By a miracle, it had all cleared up and disappeared by 11am., and

page 14

“It was almost unbelievable that despite the weather and the WRGie lurgy we achieved all we were hoping for”

Camp report

Easter on the Wilts & Berks

Maggie Eaton

stage of concrete could be poured. We had a hoping for on the two week camp, and evevisitor from East Vale (the neighbouring ryone deserves a pat on the back. It was branch) Bob Airey, who had come to see often mundane work, particularly concreting how we were progressing, and being suitably seemingly ad infinitum, but there were reattired, pitched in with the rest of the team. markably few complaints. The campers were Navy Bryan switched to brick cutting. disappointed that we had virtually no repreBy the end of Wednesday, the concrete sentation or support from the local branch. was two thirds of the way up, and one and a The accommodation has proved very half courses of corbels in place, with Martin comfortable, nice size for a smallish camp, and Alan mixing. Eleanor retired hurt. All good car parking space, and Di was pleased three courses of the corbels were right the that despite a small kitchen the oven took way across on one side of the bridge by WRG’s biggest pans! She managed to dream Thursday night, with the concrete over the up 13 different cakes, and only repeated the top of the arch on that side. Friday morning main courses and puddings once in the two was very wet again, so the morning was weeks. The accommodation had a rather spent tidying up the site, bringing bricks unusual quirk - walk through either of the down, running back and forth with the WRG loos and through a door on the far side, and mixer and generator and then the trench you find yourself in the Social Club, complete hammer, and tracking the excavator ‘Blue’ up with pool and snooker tables and reasonably to the top of the lane. It was just starting to priced beer etc. What more could one ask clear up when Di arrived with lunch, so we for? Well, showers maybe, but we shouldn’t did manage to do a few more hours concrete be greedy. spreading in the afternoon. The end of the Rachael Banyard camp saw it really looking like a proper Martin Thompson bridge, with everyone justifiably proud. Mina was in an interesting condition that is, as far as any passing red-blooded male dog would be concerned - so she couldn’t spend her time running round site as usual. Fortunately, that part of Oxfordshire is riddled with muddy byways, and Di could give her some good long walks. It is almost unbelievable that despite the weather throwing everything at us, and the WRGie-lurgy (copyright Jenny Black) interruptions, we managed to ...for the volunteers to stand in while they proofed the arch achieve all we were

page 15

Cleanup report Grappling with the BCN

The Birmingham Canal Navigations cleanup event is held annually in conjunction with British Waterways from their Birmingham base. Volunteers from WRG, the BCN Society and the local IWA branches work to clear the canals of the rubbish that is dumped in them. This is done by throwing grappling hooks attached to rope into the water and then dragging out whatever is caught…

“You’d think there had been some sort of biblical rain of tyres over the Black Country...” prams in there to give us some encouragement and make it worth our while. By 11.30 we’d only pulled in one shopping trolley and a few other sundries: little did we know the great tyre onslaught that was to come. We consoled ourselves with custard creams back at BW HQ. The morning was dull, the canal was empty and our spirits low. But then in the afternoon it became…

The day of the tyres

And so began the day of the tyres. So many tyres you’d think there had been some sort This year’s BCN got off to an inauspicious of biblical rain of tyres over the Black Counstart when Martin became trapped in his try. Maybe a bible written specially for sleeping bag. Fortunately Elanor had a pair Jeremy Clarkson. These weren’t any old tyres of pliers tucked in her pyjamas (‘just in case’) either! Not the namby-pamby tyres found on and he was quickly liberated, although many your standard Volvo. These were the sort of of us will be left worrying about Elanor for tyres you fit on tractors, and the kinds of quite some time. vehicles Arnold Schwarzenegger drives. If The day started slowly with a disapMark Two had been there he’d probably have pointingly small haul of items dragged from told us what the tread measurement was. But the bed of the Bradley Arm. Items of minor would we have listened? Probably not. That interest were: a goal post and net, the back doesn’t mean we didn’t miss him; KESCRG of a telly, two odd shoes and a bucket with a were sorely underrepresented. hole in. There was some disappointment that the canals were much emptier of junk than in previous years. Time and again the hooks came up empty and a few people shook their heads sadly and observed “what is the world coming to when you can’t even trust chavs* to throw shopping trolleys in canals anymore?” There was even a suggestion that BW might have the decency to throw some old “All pull together” Martin Ludgate

Saturday morning

page 16

BCN Cleanup

“...and pretty soon the canal banks looked like scenes from a Pirelli calendar (without the naked ladies)”

on the Bradley Arm

The tyres piled up and then the sun came out. Pretty soon the canal banks looked like scenes from a Pirelli calendar (albeit without the naked ladies). We were so proud of our work we didn’t mind the crippling back pain it inspired. Excitement escalated in the afternoon when we found a junk hot-spot by a tunnel mouth. A great haul of bikes – many of them childrens’ – was hauled in and other items including a nice new pick for London WRG! I was delighted to pull out an adult road bike in very good condition – and with a small onboard computer still working. A really good find as I was thinking of buying a bike anyway: with the added bonus that no-one will ever steal it because of the appalling smell.

Saturday 6pm Beer run, chilli con carne and then a quiz were on the menu. But first there were hot showers to be had, hot enough to sting your skin and bring tears of gratitude to your eyes. Martin had organised a quiz including picture rounds and also a game where teams had to navigate their way around the Birmingham Canal Network. The winners were the Welsh boys.

Martin Ludgate

Sunday 3.30am

All the rubbish we recovered was carted off in an assortment of boats (above) and transferred into skips at BW’s Bradley Yard (below)

Those hardy souls who had braved sub zero temperatures in the noisy dorm to conduct a heroic drinking session into the wee small hours woke up in the night to find their beds afloat. Showers in the neighbouring changing rooms were flooding. By stroke of good fortune a plumber was asleep in that very room. Someone kicked him awake. Chad took in the scene of waterlogged horror with a professional eye, assessed that it wasn’t anywhere near his bed, ensured that it wasn’t going to spread anywhere near him, rolled over and went back to sleep. Later he billed Aileen £80 for out of hours call out. “You didn’t even get out of your sleeping bag,” she said indignantly.

Rupert Smedley

Sunday 8am “I bet you’re feeling rough today” I said to Krzysiek over breakfast. “No, I cleansed.” “Cleansed?” “Cleansed” he reassured me. Later I found out it was this ‘cleansing’ that had blocked the drains. Chad said it was what they called in the trade a ‘puke dam’. With everyone sufficiently revolted we waited tensely for Aileen to declare if work was going ahead. Would the skip suppliers cancel because of the snow? By 8.45 they’d decided they were tough enough so we left Adrian’s snowman standing headless in the driveway and made haste to site.

page 17

BCN Cleanup

Fun with tyres and snow!

“In some respects a WRG dig is remarkably like banging your head against a brick wall”

Martin Ludgate

With Birmingham contriving to look quite attractive under 4 inches of snow it was hard to be in a mucky mood even as the toll of tyres again began to mount. The sun was sparkling on the virgin snow of the towpath. Mel lost her hook and Neil hooked a bridge: it was the biggest thing we’d found. By noon we’d covered the whole section BW had earmarked. It was time for sandwiches and then back to base camp for another lovely hot shower. As we’d done all the work that was planned, we knocked off early and drove back home in daylight. I wasn’t sorry to leave early enough to be home Above: A surprise on Sunday morning - the before dark. In some respects a WRG dig is vans were covered in snow. Below left: the remarkably like banging your head against a towpath starts to resemble a Pirelli calendar. brick wall – bloody lovely when it stops. Below: fun with letters. (probably slightly Sophie Smith more fun if you find more than four of them)

All pictures by Rupert Smedley

(*) apparently it stands for ‘council house and violent’

page 18

All pictures by Martin Ludgate

A selection of the weekendÂ’s catch, which also included a bedstead, a kitchen sink, a bathtub, and a brand new pickaxe which is now in the London WRG kit

page 19


Reporting from the WRG Training weekend Training Weekend May 10-11: Racing, training and no raining!

All photos by Martin Ludgate

It was lovely to be reminded how much easier a training weekend is with the heavens on your side. It would have been even nicer if I had reminded myself of the need for sun cream as I returned to the frozen North afterwards as a burnt little Womble. This year we were kindly welcomed by the good folk of the Lichfield who let us loose on their site at Tamworth Road. This was a perfect place for all of our training needs, with plenty of space, real bricklaying and that element of ‘this is the kind of site where you may use these skills in future.’ Arriving in Burntwood late on Friday night, I was somewhat concerned by the immediate sounding of alarms and the water cascading from the rooftop! Ah well, at least we knew we would be alerted in the case of a real fire. It seemed that most people, 15 instructors and 35 trainees, had found the accommodation, despite the unexpected diversions and I was very impressed with the luxury feel of the scout headquarters – tons of space, big kitchen and even a shower or two – not as good as the fire sprinklers however! On Saturday and Sunday, we set about our business: training as many as possible in the safe use of dumpers, tractors and excavators, driving vans, bending trailers in a good way, surveying with levels, writing risk assessments, bricklaying, scaffolding and making sense of those Tacho things that we have in our vans. A number of volunteers became certified (as if they weren’t already) in the use of chippers and many brushed up on their knowl-

It’s a ‘training collage’ - geddit?

edge of how to be an effective banksman. Some also trained to be instructors, not realising they will be hounded to deliver the training by me next year…mwa ha ha ha ha! After a burning hot, but I think productive, day on site, we were treated to the WRG Race Night, hopefully reported elsewhere in this issue. I won’t go into too many details, as my memory of the night is somewhat lacking, but I do remember the excellent cuisine by our superb cooks, Jude and Eli, lots of money exchanging hands and being raised for Droitwich and a whole raft of fun and excitement! The rest will have to be clarified by others - I do wish Jude would warn us before putting that much gin in the lasagne! This weekend would never work without the team spirit and commitment of so many people. Firstly, the instructors, who impart their knowledge and expertise for many hours over the two days and despite looking exhausted at the end of it, still commit their time the following year – enormous thanks to MKP, Fast Ed, Daddy Cool, Harry, Rachael, Bungle, Useful Phil, Mick, Ian, Mike S, Paul, Floodgates, Chipper Bob, Steve and Glen. Secondly, the cooks, who ensure we are well fed and watered and actually get up on a morning – thanks again to Jude and Eli. Behind the scenes, there are many folk who sort out all the logistics of getting plant and kit to and ready for site as well as transporting volunteers to their sessions and sorting out vital last minute jobs. These stars include Bungle, MKP, Jude, Mark II, Useful Phil, Martin, Sparky, Jen and this year, Mike Sumner, who kindly loaned us his tractors and delivered plant all over the place. And finally, the local society who hand over their sites to us in good faith – big thanks to the Lichfield and Bob and Sue Williams for accommodating us so brilliantly at relatively short notice and making us so welcome. So all that’s left to say is I hope those that came and joined us found it useful and for those of you who didn’t quite make it – I do really mean it when I say it is not a good idea to leave booking on until the last week – these sessions have to be planned in advance and fill up very quickly. However, our training is ongoing, so if you missed the weekend, there will still be plenty of opportunities to get trained on sites across the country, the whole year round. Thanks again to everyone who made this year a success. Ali ‘Womble’ Bottomley

Navvies diary

Your guide to all the forthcoming work parties Jun 21/22


Mon & Brec Canal: Dig Deep project

Jun 21 Sat


‘Paper Chase’ waste paper collection

Jun 21-28

Camp 200803 Droitwich Barge Lock - Canal Camp. Leader: Mike Palmer

Jun 21-28

Camp 200804 Chesterfield Canal Camp. Leaders James Butler and Mike Chase. Cook: Lo

Jun 28/29

London WRG Wilts & Berks Canal: Dig Deep project

Jun 28-Jul 5 Camp 200805 Grand Western Canal Camp: Lowdwells Lock CANCELLED

Jun 28-Jul 5 Camp 200806 Ipswich & Stowmarket Navigation - Canal Camp: Baylham Lock. Leaders: Jul 2-9


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 200807 Grand Western Canal Camp: Lowdwells Lock CANCELLED

Jul 5-12

Camp 200808 Cotswold Canals Camp: Gough’s Orchard Lock. Leaders: Harry Watts and

Jul 5-12

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

Jul 12-19

Camp 200810 Lord Rolle’s Canal Camp. Leaders: Spencer Collins and Victoria Westwood

Jul 12-19

Camp 200811 Cotswold Canals Camp: Gough’s Orchard Lock

Jul 13 Sun


Jul 19-26

Camp 200812 Mon & Brec Canal Camp. Leaders Rob Daffern and Rachel Bowers

Jul 19-26

Camp 200813 Basingstoke Canal Camp: Brookwood flight backpumping project. Leaders

Jul 26 Sat


Committee & Board Meetings

‘Paper Chase’ waste paper collection

Jul 26-Aug 2 Camp 200814 Droitwich Barge Lock - Canal Camp Jul 26-Aug 2 Camp 200815 Basingstoke Canal Camp: Dig Deep project - Brookwood Backpump. Led Aug 2/3

London WRG Cotswold Canals: Joint dig with WRG SouthWest

Aug 2/3


Cotswold Canals: Joint dig with London WRG

Aug 2/3

Essex WRG

Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation: plus Barbecue

Aug 2/3


Montgomery Canal: Raising work-flat at Aston (provisional)

Aug 2-9

Camp 200816 Droitwich Barge Lock - Canal Camp. Leaders Chris Blaxland and Martyn W

Aug 2-9

Camp 200817 Montgomery Canal Camp. Leaders: Paul Shaw and Louise Gale

Aug 9-16

Camp 200818 Droitwich Barge Lock - Canal Camp. Leaders: Martin Thompson and Rach

Aug 9-16

Camp 200819 Montgomery Canal Camp. Leaders: Helen Gardner, Mark Richardson and V

Aug 9-16

Camp 200820 Thames & Severn Summer Camp: Dig Deep project at Eisey Lock. Led by

Aug 18-28

Camp 200821 IWA National Festival at Autherley Junction - site services Canal Camp. Le

Sep 6/7

London WRG To be arranged, including ‘half-agm’ meeting

Sep 6/7


Droitwich Barge Canal

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

page 22

Canal Camps cost ÂŁ49 per week unless otherwise stated. Bookings for WRG Canal Camps (those identified by a camp number e.g. 'Camp 200805') should go to WRG Canal Camps, PO Box 114, Rickmansworth WD3 1ZY. Tel: 01923 711114. Email: enquiries@wrg.org.uk Dave Wedd


David McCarthy


ouise Gale Tim Lewis










Liz Wilson and Nina Whiteman. Cook: Chris Rowell


Sun 6)


Adrian Fry John Gale

















s: Ed Walker and Nigel Lee. Cook: Harri Barnes01923-711114


Jenny Black


Eddie Jones

d Mike Palmer

David McCarthy

0161-740-2179 01923-711114


Dave Wedd



Tim Lewis



Harri Barnes



John Gale



David McCarthy







ael Banyard



Viv Watson







Tim Lewis



Graham Hawkes



by wrgBITM.



Graham Hawkes

eaders Dave Worthington and Jenny Black

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

page 23

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


page 24

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


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


Do we need pressure washers for our cookers? Plus more thanks for the Barn Dance

...to the editor

Martin Ludgate

Dear Martin Dear Editor having read Just Jen’s article in Issue In addition to Bobby’s piece about the 228 I was suddenly reminded about the Barn Dance in the last edition I’d like to add National at St Ives. a few bits and pieces: Quite early in the camp I was given In total we raised £1260: £260 for ‘compund duty’. So, on the day in question, Nwpg and the remainder split between KESCRG and London WRG, which is an excellent after partaking of a coffee and two fags otherwise known as breakfast - self and four result and definitely makes the hard work others duly did the washing up. That done worthwhile. in fairly quick time we then split up to attack I just wanted to say thanks very much to all those who attended, those who danced the toilets, showers and kitchen. Having attacked the bomb site that had earlier proand those who drank. Lots of thank yous have been done already but I’d especially like duced innumerable fried eggs I got stuck in to the gas ranges. Fortunately I am not to thank everyone who helped with the little jobs: setting up and putting away the tables, squeamish, for it was found that assorted leftover food scraps had been serving as stirring gravy, mashing spuds, serving, nurseries for various bacteria counting cutlery and fungi for some consideretc. etc. Your help able time. was very much [Oh get to the point!! ...Ed] noticed and appreAll right - I will - just givciated. Washing up ing you the background. Many gold stars go to days and lots of meals later, Mummy Cool, Tim when the whole camp was being Lewis and Alan struck down, I noted that the Wiffen. And of two ranges were unceremonicourse - Bobby ously bunged into the backs of forgot to thank whichever transport they arrived himself, so I’ll do that for him Note the date - 28/2/9 - for next time in. Other than the burners being removed and placed in separate cheers mate. containers, they were not checked for ‘unWith regards to the logistical incident wanted biological matter’. early on; Benson Parish Council sincerely At that point I made mental note to apologise for the confusion with the hall suggest to the camp leaders that one of booking for the Leaders Training Day, they accept full responsibility for the double book- those high pressure jet wash thingies (Karcher gun?) would have made short, but ing and have refunded us the money (yay!) very thorough, work of last minute cleaning We’ll be running this again next year of not only the ranges but probably a whole and the band, hall, Leaders Day and WRG Committee meeting are all booked for Satur- host of other items as well. Then, being a decrepit old fart, I day 28th February 2009. Tickets will be walked five paces and promptly forgot about available from the beginning of November my brilliant idea. Until now. and will be sold at the Bonfire Bash. Would the expense of such device be Finally, we’re really sorry we had to warranted/viable/useful? It could be used on turn people away but we’re delighted that we sold out for the first time. The lesson learnt? Jen’s Curver boxes and Bungle’s pasty oven! Nick Wilde Book early next year! (known to Moose -and others- as the skinny, Hope to see you there. Helen ‘BushBaby’ Gardner miserable, moaning, old Yorkshire git)

page 25


Our regular roundup of restoration progress begins with a look at how the Dig Deep Initiative is helping four projects in the south

The Dig Deep Initiative... s

Dig Deep Report: April 2008

Martin Ludgate

Martin Ludgate

The Dig Deep Initiative has now been running since 1992 and although no single project has been in the limelight of late we are still going and still making a valuable contribution to restoration projects. Dig Deep is about co-ordinating and combining volunteer effort onto specific sites so that work can be proceed more effectively, and both the visiting groups and the local canal trusts achieve something constructive. At present the visiting groups that subscribe to Dig Deep include KESCRG, LWRG, NWPG and BITM. However this should not be seen as an exclusive list and other groups would be welcomed to the sites that we work on. Also we would encourage canal trusts and societies who feel that they could support more group visits to make contact with us (see end of this article). We will planning our Dig Deep on the Cotswold Canals: rebuilding 2009 programme in the period leading up to work begins on the wing walls at Eisey Lock the IWA National Festival in August. Progress on our current sites has been laying have been cancelled due to rain. Scrub steady. It has been a wet winter and some of bashing has been very much the order of the the more constructive activities such as brick day. Now that the longer days are here and that it is drying out a little we have started building things again. At Eisey Lock on the Thames & Severn Canal near Cricklade work has started on dismantling and re-building the upper wing walls, preparing a site access and removing 80 years of tree growth. Work will concentrate on preparing the site for the summer camp so that the 25 or so volunteers can be quickly put to work on a variety of jobs including chamber clearance and wing wall reconstruction. Assuming that Dig Deep stays on this site until completion then my best guess is that we will finish the job sometime in early summer 2010. On the Wilts & Berks Canal we are into our second year at Seven Locks and more specifically the re-build of Lock 4. My last visit to this site was at Christmas 2007 during one of those periods of rain I mentioned Dig Deep on the Wilts & Berks: Lock 4 seen earlier. At that time the second (off-side) lock in February with rebuilding well on the way chamber wall had been about 30% com-

page 26


Does your canal society have a suitable project for the Dig Deep teams to tackle? If so, get in touch

Dig Deep on the Mon & Brec: the slow process of restoring the stone overflow weir on Lock 3


pleted. The rest of this spring and summer will be spent bringing this side up to full height so that by the end of the KESCRG camp the lock will be substantially complete. We await confirmation from Rachael and her team that work will continue in 2009 – either Lock 1 or Lock 2 being a possibility. The latter requires some significant engineering decisions as a minor road crosses the middle of the lock. [and currently the most likely option is to re-route the road around the tail of the lock, which makes it less time-critical and brings the intriguing possibility of volunteers working on a road bridge rebuild ...Ed] Two other projects are being supported, though with a lesser number of weekends. On the Basingstoke Canal we are hoping to be helping the Surrey & Hants Canal Society on a new project to install back pumping at Brookwood Locks. BITM are holding their week camp on the canal in July and other Dig Deep weekends follow in the autumn. Dig Deep, supported by a WRG camp, will be back working on the Mon & Brec Canal at Locks 3 and 4 of the Crumlin Arm near Newport. It is last summer since I last

Martin Ludgate

...co-ordinated canal restoration

Dig Deep on the Basingstoke: backpumping and other work at Brookwood and Deepcut

saw these locks but given progress in 2007 I expect that the aim is to complete Lock 3 and make good progress on Lock 4. Unlike the Thames and Severn Canal, the chamber walls of these locks are built of stone and in pretty good condition. The by-washes are the opposite and have been destroyed by tree growth. They require re-building with the small slate-like stones – a long process where the finding and selection of the stone is more of a challenge than its positioning and mortaring in. So that’s the plan for 2008. With better weather than last year, there should be good progress to report in Navvies in the autumn. As mentioned earlier, we will be looking to agree our projects for next year by the end of August. If your Canal Trust or Society feel that they could support about six weekends of work and a possible week summer camp on a single site/project then please contact us early for a chat. Alan Cavender is the Dig Deep Coordinator: phone number is 01628 629033 or e-mail alancavender@tiscali.co.uk. Bill Nicholson

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Our regular roundup of restoration progress around the system kicks off with thelatest on the Lichfield and Hatherton

Lichfield, Sankey... Lichfield and Hatherton Canals The end of April brought to an end a period of sustained activity and the work at Tamworth Road has been completed on time. On 26 April we held a very successful Open Day with visits from 3 mayors. The length between Lock 24 and the A51, taking in Locks 25 and 26, has been improved in such a way that it can be converted to a live canal when funding and opportunity allows. However, it will also be a great leisure asset to the people of Lichfield, opening up a safe and attractive footpath from Cricket Lane to the A51 bridge over the A38. With so much development going on in Lichfield and with more planned the enhancement of “green” areas must be a great asset. In the longer term, when we have rewatered the channel, we will have created a linear water park.

It has now become clear that the Trust must commission a full study of the Lichfield Canal to match the Arup Study of the Hatherton. Our three local councils are moving ahead with their Local Development Frameworks and it is clear that we will need a biodiversity impact study if we are to satisfy one of their important criteria. Such a study will also be vital if we are to work more closely with British Waterways, the Environment Agency and possible funding bodies. The Trust already has much of the basic information on file. On the Hatherton, South Staffordshire District Council has now agreed to receive into its ownership the land which had been offered to the Trust by Countrywide Homes on the understanding that it will be made available when the Trust is ready to work in the area. The access to this land will make it easier to design a channel which will be navigable by full length boats. Brian Kingshott

New lock tail footbridge at Lock 25, Lichfield Canal

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Martin Ludgate

Sankey Canal Our work party volunteers have been busy at three locations, Hulme Lock, Newton Common Lock and Bradley Lock Sunday 13th January 2008: Clearance work at Hulme Lock Cottage. We cut out all the brambles that had began to take a hold around the cottage wall, and cleared out the grass, brambles and a young tree from the “cesspit” and the entrance path. Weeds and unwanted grass were removed from the block paved areas at the rear of the cottage and the Sankey Valley Park Information board that had become almost unreadable with green algae was cleaned up. By mid afternoon most of the work on the cottage was complete so we began to clear some of the brambles and young tress that were growing in the wall of the lock chamber. Sunday 17th February 2008:

Would you like your project to feature in these pages? Why not send us a progress report? Clearance work at Newton Common Lock. With the help of three park rangers we start repairing the perimeter fence and began clearing the lock and cottage area of unwanted vegetation Sunday 16th March 2008: Removal of trees from the site of Bradley Lock Cottage. The site was on the off side of the lock where the lock cottage once stood; by the top gate was a largish tree that had been blown over sometime ago and towards the centre of the lock another largish tree that had become rotten at ground level and was beginning to topple over. Intermingled with this tree were many smaller saplings that needed to be removed. Work commenced on the tree near the top gates and the cut down branches were carried across to the towpath side and stacked ready for the shredder when it came on site on the Wednesday. The canal is filled in above the top gates so ferrying the trees across was no problem. The coping stones of the lock where cleared of vegetation and the entrance to the lock was followed in from the large basin that use to exist above the lock; more clearance work took place in the basin revealing a large portion of wall made up of sandstone blocks. A quick survey with the divining rods revealed a large rectangle of ground approximately where the lock cottage would have been. Sunday 13th April 2008: More work at Bradley Lock. The first task was to clear away and stack the thick tree branches that had not gone through the chipper then the site was raked clear of debris and any loose vegetation. After an hour or so the site became quite bare except for the sawn off stumps of trees. Now our attention turned to finding the remains of the lock cottage. Under the guidance of Peter Keen our ”archaeologist” we began; the first thing we did to gave us a starting point was to dig a trench from an area were we had got a reading with the divining rods. Soon a patch of red shale was uncovered and various digs along the lock



side indicated that this covered the whole of the area in front of the cottage. The next thing was to extend the trench away from the lock; this led to the finding of sandstone blocks and beyond that a flat area of flooring. The sandstone blocks were traced and revealed the shape of the cottage. Further investigation proved difficult because of the root growth over the site, however the two gable end walls were found thus giving us an idea of the size of the cottage. After much deliberation on our findings and the taking of measurement the whole area of the cottage was filled in and left for further investigation at a future date. Many thanks to all the volunteers who turned out during this period. Colin Greenall

Shropshire Union Canal Society: Montgomery Canal The first two work parties of the year took place at Dolfor Lock, on the length currently owned by Severn Trent Water, to lay the hedge alongside the lock. Twelve SUCS members, from experts to novices, were assisted by two volunteers from the British Trust for Conservation. The hedge was a stern test as it included a number of large trees and had been neglected for many years. Some 105 metres of hedge were dealt with. The March work parties began by undertaking the move from Crickheath to Redwith. Building of wash walls was soon under way at Redwith, taking advantage of a site which had already been cleared by BW contractors. They have also profiled banks, installed a culvert and piled, waterproofed and backfilled the towpath on 430 metres of canal between Redwith Bridge and Pryce’s Bridge. Our job is to build a stone wash wall on the towpath side and a stone and reinforced concrete retaining wall on the offside. We inherited the contractor’s compound and the considerable quantity of good building stone which had been reclaimed and stockpiled for us. The length of the site is consid-

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“...the excitement of putting the precast prestressed concrete beams in place...”

...Wey & Arun and Wendover... erable, and we were able to use a tracked mini-dumper rather than our trusty wheelbarrows. The towpath wall is to be built on a batter similar to the canal originals, and this means the development of a new building method. We’ve made a good start on the 550 metres of wall which is needed! Mike Friend

Wey & Arun Canal

Wey & Arun Canal Trust

The Canal Bridge Loxwood - April 08 update. In February 2007 application was made to West Sussex County Council (WSCC) to proceed with the bridge, the design having been agreed the previous December. They applied the same rules as they would a developer: eighteen coloured drawings of what we proposed, a twenty five page legal agreement to be signed by the six parties involved and a cash bond to the value of the works to be given the them before the works started. Additionally WSCC required £35k for ‘admin and inspection’ of the works and they will require a commuted sum before they adopt the structure.

In August all that was in place. Three months later the landowners’ solicitors were pressurised into acceptance of the agreement, by then much changed. We then had to wait for the piling contractor to finish the jobs they had in hand. On the 2 January the scaffolders were on site putting up a bridge for the pedestrians diverted from the footpath during the works. This bridge has been very successful for viewing the works as they progressed. The road was closed for a week while the piling across it was done. A further two weeks later the 142 x 450mm diameter piles were complete. About half of the piles were 12m long, the rest 8m. Our contractors C J Thorne then commenced work on probably the most difficult part, the east side of the road. ‘Muck away’ was the cry, as the platform required by the 50 tonne piling rig was removed and the working level reduced to just above the water level. It would have been better to have excavated down to the final blinding level, but a design constraint required a higher level so that the piles, then acting as columns, did not get over stressed. The piles had to be cut down and a reinforced concrete pile cap cast. At the far eastern end, the pile cap formed the wing walls. Where the road will be the walls, the pile cap and a shelf for the beams were formed. The excitement of putting the pre-cast, prestressed beams in place happened on 8 April and the deck slab was cast on 18 April. The concrete is next to cure and then the waterproofing can be applied. The black top and kerbing will follow so by mid-May the traffic should be diverted to the east side of the road. Eric Walker

Loxwood Bridge takes shape

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Wendover Arm

commodate the plant, particularly the tracked dumpers that are wider than an excavator, banks on both sides have had to be undercut. This causes further delay to the restoration, not only because of the extra work involved but the replaced spoil has to settle for about a year before it has consolidated enough to support the new Bentonite and block lining. During the February work party, before access was cut off by the route of the pipeline, the first base of the Stage 1 mooring bay was cast and it is intended to pour the next section at the May work party so that wall sections can follow on during the year. KESCRG will be erecting the first wall

Wendover Arm Trust

Wendover Arm Trust

Wendover Arm Trust

March 2008 Work Party: The picture [right] illustrates the problems that have arisen from the route of the underground pipe veering from the offside to the towpath side and back again. At the March work party we had to cut ourselves off from the Drayton Beauchamp end of the Stage 1 site including work on the mooring bay in order to lay the 42 metres of pipe capping shown, where the underground pipe (which currently carries the water supply under the dry bed of the canal) veers from offside to towpath side. When this was cured to full strength (28 The pipe capping crosses the canal bed days) the first job of the April work party was to lay a spoil ramp over the capping to formwork at the May work party. enable mechanical plant to cross from one April 2008 Work Party: At the April side to the other. work party a further 36 metres of pipe capAnother of our problems can also be ping was laid taking us up to the end of seen in the second picture [below]. To acStage 1 and a good length of the offside bank built back to profile for settlement during the winter. The formwork for the second base of the mooring bay was completed ready to pour. Wendover water level: There will be a temporary bund at the end of Stage 1 and current water levels, as shown below at the first temporary bund, indicate that there will always be the need for an emergency outlet if the 18” pipe below cannot cope with the volume of water. The intention is to lay the pipe capping up to and beyond the next manhole so that there is an emergency exit for water into the manhole until the time comes to line Stage 2. During recent weeks there have been major increases in the water level back from The mooring bay base is cast the sump at Drayton Beauchamp to Wendo-

The temporary bund: note the water level

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...and finally the Manchester Bolton & Bury

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Manchester Bolton & Bury Canal

Manchester Bolton & Bury Canal Society, ably assisted by wrgNW, spent the weekend of 29-30 March removing trees and other vegetation from the upper of the two three-lock staircases of Prestolee (Nob End) Locks at Little Lever (above). The locks had become so overgrown that they were almost invisible, especially in summer. Now they are revealed as they have not been seen for many years (below); the structures are 95% intact.


ver and, as seen above, the sump at Drayton Beauchamp has been below water level. A problem facing the re-watering of Phase II is the effect of raising the water level back to Wendover to Tring Summit level. The level between Halton and Wendover is already at or above this level so, in theory, should not rise at all but it is necessary to investigate further. As a part of the work needed to raise the water level in the canal to navigation level we need to check the effects this will have on the banks and towpath. The grill protecting the entry to the pipeline recently clogged with weed causing the level to rise quite considerably, possibly higher than has been the case in recent years. Conceivably this could happen again at any time. To complete this work we are asking for 6 volunteers to work in 3 pairs adjacent to the 3 known benchmarks at Wendover Basin, Perch Bridge and Halton Bridge. Their job will be to measure and note water levels at 15-minute intervals as well as observing the banks and the path adjacent to their position. A team will be working at the inlet to the pipe controlling the level increase in a measured way. Jon Kelly will be co-ordinating the work and communicating between the 4 groups. It is planned that this will take place during a period of stable weather in the summer so it should prove to be a pleasant day in the country with a serious purpose. If you would like to take part in this day then please contact Jon at jon.kelly2@gmail.com or on 07974855712. August Working Week: I have now heard from enough volunteers to confirm that this will be from Saturday 2nd August to Sunday 10th August 2008. The primary aim, weather permitting, will be to profile all Stage 1 banks that do not require further settlement and line them with Bentomat, blocks, coir rolls and spoil. For more information see our website wendovercanal.org.uk Roger Leishman

Our ‘intro to canals for WRGies who don’t wear anoraks’ series delves into waterways history for its second instalment

Beginners’ guide

...to canal history

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

When were they first built? The Mesepotamians were building canals in what’s now modern day Iraq and Syria whilst our ancestors the Britons were still throwing rocks at each other - around 4000 BC. Other ancient civilisations such as ancient China and the Egyptians also joined the canal club but it was the Romans who built Britain’s first canals, such as the Foss Dyke in Lincolnshire. Whose canals are the best? The Grand Canal of China is still the longest canal in the world today at roughly 1,100 miles and was originally built to carry the Emperor Yang Guang between Beijing and Hangzhou. The oldest parts of the canal date back to the 5th century BC (although it isn’t clear whether it was WRG or KESCRG who were responsible). How did British canals get going? After the Romans left, there was still some canal building in Britain, for instance the Exeter Canal, which opened in 1563. Later with the industrial revolution underway, Britain experienced a ‘canal mania’ of sorts between the 1780’s and 1800’s. Britain experienced its industrial revolution earlier than many other countries and it was probably for this reason that it was the first country to acquire a nationwide canal network. How did the Canal Mania happen? Canal building took off in a big way after the huge success of the Bridgewater canal, one of the early industrial canals. The third Duke of Bridgewater, who owned a number of coal mines in northern England, commissioned the engineer James Brindley to build a canal to transport his coal to Manchester. Opening in 1761, the Duke’s canal proved highly successful. The system of horse-drawn boats was so economical that it was said the price of coal in Manchester was cut by nearly two-thirds within just a year of the Bridgewater opening - and soon canals were being planned all over the country. Decline and fall For reasons of economy and the constraints of 18th century engineering technology, the early canals and locks were built to a narrow width. This limited the size of boats and the quantity they could carry to around 30 tonnes. This decision would in later years make the canal network economically uncompetitive as by the mid 20th century it was difficult to work a 30 tonne load economically compared to railways and roads. Tell us something interesting about canals. It is said that there are more boats on UK canals today than at the height of their commercial use.

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Claire Johnstone and Colin Butler

Remembering two stalwards from the formative years of WRG who passed away recently

Claire Johnstone 1931 - 2008

Martin Ludgate

Claire Johnstone died in February. Born in 1931, Claire was the granddaughter of an early owner of the Evening Standard. When she was very young she started suffering from Still’s Disease (a form of juvenile rheumatoid arthritis). Although she had difficulty walking (she became noted for her fancy stick, used on occasion to deal with cheeky friends) she learnt to drive an adapted car and was a very good driver. Her difficulties brought out the best in Claire, her exceptional strength of character, her courage and her determination. She trained as a journalist but in the end worked in an antiquarian bookshop, where she indulged her love of books. She bought Willow Cottage on the Thames, with 80 or so feet of mooring space used over the years by boating friends, and a beautiful 1-acre garden, where she lived until her death and where she was able to indulge her love of parties. She went on canal holidays in borrowed boats and on occasions, determined to get to the pub, she was lifted off a boat and dragged up slopes and steps to get a drink. She loved the water and inspired by the writings of Robert Aickman in the late 1950’s threw herself into the cause which would dominate her life for many years, becoming a stalwart of the then London and Home Counties branch of the Inland Waterways Association. She attended a number of National IWA rallies in her own boat ‘Misty Morn’ and edited the daily newsletter at the Little Venice Rally in 1963. On the Branch Committee she was involved with a number of local rallies and was a campaigning editor of the branch magazine ‘Windlass’ from October 1961 to April 1970,

Following the sad loss of volunteer Jonathan ‘Tay’ Taylor (as reported last time) the Canalway Cavalcade team at Little Venice honoured his memory by naming the bar after him for the event

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revelling in the gossipy parts of the publication and in the fact that she was the only one who knew the name of the writer of the subversive ‘Josher’ column, which regularly aired the deficiencies in the Waterways Board and commented on the IWA campaign. It was this that led to her resignation. Following an article that was said to have personally criticized Lionel Munk, then chairman of the IWA council, council declared that the authorship of all anonymous articles in branch magazines had to be made known to council. Claire, who had kept her Branch Chairman, Desmond Briscoe, informed of the name of the contributor, was not prepared to report to council and, feeling that she was not supported from the Branch committee resigned as editor. It is now known that although there were several ‘Joshers’ the regular was Graham Palmer, who was a close friend. Claire was involved with the early working parties of the London and Home Counties Branch and with others organised the catering. She supported Graham Palmer (GKP) when he (and others) expanded them from local one day events to monthly weekend events travelling all over the country to restoration sites, particularly the Stratford Canal and Upper Avon restorations and the Stratford Blitz. Claire and Margaret formalised the catering section, which took them all over the country and they spent many hours emptying local shops of meat and vegetables before a cash and carry card was acquired. Later she was closely involved with Graham in setting up the WRG organisation and became their first cook. After her resignation from Windlass Graham persuaded Claire of the need to preserve working narrow boats, which were still being sunk by BW. She persuaded Robert Aickman and Tony Lewery to address a packed meeting at Northampton, in 1971, which set up the Narrow Boat Trust and she became secretary. The trust acquired two boats, Alton and Satellite, and docked them at Norton Canes. For two very cold years Claire organised and fed the working parties led by Bernard Hales that restored them to working condition. At the same time she was working to obtain contracts for them. A major result of her efforts was that the boats had a starring role in a National Childrens Film Trust film set in Little Venice (it would be interesting to know if anyone has a copy of the film or knows if it still exists). In the early 1990s osteoarthritis in her spine took her into hospital for many weeks and when she returned home it was to an electric wheelchair. She was housebound for two years or so, before David persuaded her to go out, initially to Staines, then further afield. During visits by the Gibsons she would hire a special vehicle and organise trips with friends to London and other places of interest. Determination increased her range of movements to a remarkable extent and she got a computer and discovered the internet. Too late she settled down to something she had often talked about – writing. She wrote too few charming stories for small children, a couple of poems and a few other things. She loved cats, music, entertaining and was always surrounded by friends. David and Margaret Gibson Bernard and Janet Hales

Colin Butler Long-time readers of “Navvies” will be sorry to hear of the death of Colin Butler at the end of April. Not the most flamboyant of Graham Palmer’s lieutenants, he was nevertheless an important member of the team in the 1970’s, leading the Summer rallies’ sales efforts and putting into effect many of Graham’s plans. Most weekends would find him on a site somewhere assisting with the management or logistics, or acting as Graham’s driver, or doing any of a dozen other tasks. Outside WRG in ‘real life’, Colin worked in electrical contracting and had good commercial sense which he used to effect, sitting on various committees and in modifying some of Graham’s wilder ideas. Ever since Robert Aickman and Tom Rolt started the whole business after the war, the waterway movement has been dominated by big personalities. Colin was not one of these, just a well known face who beavered away quietly. His contribution was large, if not readily apparent. He will be missed by those who remember him. John Felix

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London WRG

...on the Cotswold Canals

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was very impressed with the use of so many words that I didn’t understand but was grateful when David our camp leader delegated the jobs in layman’s terms. So after taking more ‘before’ pictures than you can shake a Kodak at, I joined Nigel and New Rachel in dusting off the brickwork of one of the lock’s wingwalls. It was Rachel’s very first dig and only my second so the tag ‘Old Rachel’ sounded a bit odd to me but I didn’t mind. It’s not a bad name for a boat though, I reckon. The crew set to work as the sun climbed higher into the sky (‘HA!’ I thought). Ed got working on the digger and helped create access for plant and machinery. Helena was dusting off the brickwork on the lock gate recess wall. Poor Martin was already halfway to Bradford by this stage since the IWA ResCom meeting had fallen on the same weekend and robbed us of both him and the van for the first day of the dig. A band of our hardy menfolk were particularly fascinated with an obstinate tree stump which wasn’t going to give up its 60 year old residency of the canal bed without a fight. The look of grim determination on Nic’s face said it all - having witnessed said

Rachel Malham

A tale of two Rachels, two wingwalls, a stubborn tree stump and an otter… “The Thames looks pretty different to when we last saw it at Vauxhall Bridge!” said Martin as we pulled up outside the Ashton Keynes village hall, our weekend accommodation for the Eisey Lock dig. He wasn’t wrong. Down in the Cotswolds, the river trickled charmingly under quaint bridges of Cotswold stone - a world away from the murky waters of Vauxhall. The metropolis we’d left behind was far from our thoughts as we looked forward to the dig ahead. On the journey down, I had waved my factor 30 suncream at the girls and told them ‘I’ll bet I’ll be lending you this before the weekend’s out!’ They eyed me, and the heavy grey sky, with suspicion. It takes a lot more than that to shake my conviction in the BBC’s 5-day forecast. I’d have the last laugh, I hoped, with my fingers crossed. After landing in Ashton Keynes, we did what I have now learned is WRG tradition; namely, checking out the local hostelry. To our delight (well mine anyway) the landlord let me ‘try before I buy’ some of the local cider, which was very kind of him. And not only that - even the local cowboy came out to welcome us. I stared in open-mouthed awe, taking in his steel-tipped lapels, string necklace and boots. “It’s going to be another great dig” said Sophie as I wondered where he kept his lasso. “I just know it.” Since joining WRG, I have lived and slept like a queen and am starting to wonder whether Sophie’s warnings of the post-apocalyptic horror of some camp accommodation shouldn’t be taken with a handful of salt. After a warm and peaceful night’s sleep, I woke up to the crackle of frying bacon and Frank telling someone he “used to be in cavity walls”. Shaking the sleep (and the image of Frank in a cavity wall) out of my head, I sat down to my hearty WRG brekkie and was pleased to find the sun shining high in the sky outside. Once on site, we got a briefing from the local canal chaps who had a nifty-looking A3 colour chart with lots of arrows on it. I

Reporting from London WRG’s first dig at Eisey Lock on the Thames & Severn Canal in April

Clearing silt and stones from the lock tail

coming here for years!” he said happily. Spying my conspicuous bright blue wellies (with bubble motif), David suggested that I dip into the lock tail which we were pumping dry (another part of our task set for the weekend) to unclog the pump filter. Apparently, it’s a truth universally acknowledged in WRG that whatever the water level, it will be approximately one inch higher that the height of your wellies (Thanks Tim). But being a New/Old Rachel, I didn’t know this, so I skipped right in and got soaked. Quicker than you can say ‘wellies’, the bank was full of WRGies laughing and taking photos. “We heard you scream” Sophie said, “so we picked up our cameras and ran as fast as we could.” I spent the afternoon being taught how to bricklay by Martin. Nigel and New Rachel’s wall was coming on apace and the stubborn tree stump was now deadwood. Nic was instrumental in its ‘death by pulley system’ and was busy determinedly carving ‘Kescrg’ into its carcass. Ed was digging out silt from the lock tail which had far less water in it since my pumping debacle. Helena’s brickwork was much tidier after 2 days of dusting and Sophie learnt how to use a bricksaw. Frank provided us all with the mortar to hold it all together and I got to hand out suncream to people at last. That, and the fact that there’ll be many more such weekends at Eisey lock (even if the sun isn’t guaranteed) meant that I returned to London (and the murky Thames at Vauxhall) a tired happy Old Rachel. Roll on the first weekend of August! Rachel Malham

Rachel Malham

tree stump defeat Kescrg’s best and valiant efforts the week before, Nic had personally decided that this stump’s cards were marked. Sophie ferried rubble, Frank mixed mortar and all was right with the world. ‘Do you want any suncream, Helena?’ I asked as Helena basked with her brickwork in the relentless sunshine. ‘No thanks!’ she called back cheerily. Determined to prove my point, I tried to foist the cream on anyone who crossed my path but to little avail. Once I had finished dusting down the wingwall with Nigel and New Rachel, I left them to it to begin their bricklaying and I began working with Paul on the opposite wingwall. We had our work cut out for us in removing the loose brickwork since due to rogue roots, a lot of it just crumbled to the touch. By afternoon tea break, Sophie and I decided we were going to enjoy the glorious sunshine and lay down in the grass to watch the world (and the hungry WRGies) go by. One of the local canal chaps, no doubt anxious that us ladies get back to work after everyone else had returned to site, thought that one way to get us moving might be to warn us about the dangers of local fauna. ‘I wouldn’t lie like that if I were you, you might get trodden on by an otter!’ he said, quite worried that we would. Any otters that were thinking we might be fair game would have been scared off by our hysterics. It’s with regret that I report there was no sign of any otter on either that or the next afternoon. That evening, Martin made it back in time for James’ cracking shepherd’s pie and heard the tales of the day from all of us. In the pub, the barman shrugged in bewildered apology since he had run out of the sumptuous cider that we loved so much, saying ‘I don’t know what it can be – we seem to have had a sudden rush recently’. The WRGies looked at each other and nodded back seriously. We couldn’t imagine how he’d come to run out either. Sadly the cowboy was nowhere in sight. Maybe he’d heard about the rogue otters in the area and set about trying to lasso them. Frank showed me a book with Eisey Lock in it, circa 1900. It was amazing to see the lock keeper’s cottage standing next to a working canal and know it was the same house that overlooked our site. Everyone agreed that there were years of work ahead (and no doubt many more barrels of cider pumped dry from that pub) before we can completely restore it to its former glory. Martin’s first look at site on the Sunday concurred with this: “We’ll be

Clearing loose bricks from the gate recess wall

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Attention trailer-towers! Digital tachographs Soon we will have a fleet of vans that all have the new, swanky digital tachograph machines in. This will mean that any of you out there with a WRG Trailer ticket will need to have a digital tachograph card - or you can’t tow without breaking the law. Cards are obtained from the DVLA, and WRG will refund the cost of the card: contact Jenny Black at head office. The tachograph machine looks complicated to someone new to it. Even me - I have spent some frustrating hours trying to get my card back out over the last couple of years! So here is a guide to help you along with the basic functions you will mainly need to use. There are loads more - we’ll tell you about them in future articles. Before you set off...

. Turn the ‘ignition’ on. . There will probably be a warning message . . . .

saying ‘Driving without card’. Push the OK button on the machine. Insert your card in the ‘driver 1’ slot with the chip facing up and the arrow facing away from you. You will get a ‘welcome’ message followed by some lines counting down, then it will say when your last withdrawal was. After these an, ‘M entry’ screen will appear. This means ‘manual entry’. You won’t normally need to make a manual entry - we will explain when you need to and how you do it next time. Use the up and down arrows on the machine until it says ‘No’ then push OK. You will get a ‘Begin country’ screen. Again, unless satnav took you a really weird way to the Wilts and Berks, ‘UK’ will be flashing and you will just need to push OK.

You can now drive. The machine should automatically set your card to driving (the little steering wheel.) When you stop for a rest break you need to set the machine to the ‘bed’ symbol. To do this push the ‘driver 1’ button. When you have ended your jour-

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Time ‘Card’ symbol ‘Drive’ symbol ‘Driver 1’ button ‘Eject’ button

‘Driver 1’ slot


ney and want to remove your card...

. Best to have the engine running. Due to the . . . . .

machine needing good voltage, if the battery is slightly low it won’t eject your card. Push the ‘eject’ button next to ‘driver 1’. ‘End country’ will come up and ‘UK’ should be flashing. Push ‘OK’ Your surname will appear, and bars counting down. ‘24h day’ will appear. A ‘yes’ or ‘no’ will flash. use the up and down arrows until it says ‘no’ then OK to select. Your card should come out.

If you have just got your card and are simply testing to see if it works, you won’t be able to just insert it and then eject. You will need to wait at least 5 minutes, otherwise you will get an ‘ejection not possible’ message. Also on the screen you will only see the bottom half of your card symbol. This is a black square. For a complete card symbol a black square with an outline-only square above it will appear. Drivers hours: My rule of thumb is the numbers 4 and 5. You can drive for 4.5 hours before making a compulsory break. A break must be 45minutes long. You can only drive for up to 9 hours per day (I am sure you have spotted the 4+5 is 9!) There are rules about longer hours but for most WRG use the 9 hours rule is easier to stick too. Between days’ driving you must take at least and 11-hour break. Please remember that these are just brief guideline: there are many more functions and rules about breaks and days off which WRG driving rarely involves - unless you find yourself towing the trailer to site every day of a week’s camp. See the fuller guide in a future ‘Navvies’, in the meantime if in doubt ask someone who knows, and if still in doubt don’t tow. James Butler

WRG’s boat club brings you details of some events that boating WRGies might like to attend this summer...


News from our Boat Club

WRG Boat Club news This is going to be a VERY short article because I have been attacked by TECHNOMANCY and am having to use a floppy laptop with graphite stylus (reversed for correcting) and no spel chucker. (*) Here are some events that you might be interested in attending this summer… Saul Festival 4-6 July: Please try to be there. The Cotswold Canals Trust needs our support. Plenty of space for boats, plenty of jobs for volunteers. We hope to have a social gathering in the clubhouse at the event. Please let me know if you are there, so I can keep you informed. The IWA National Festival: 22-25 August: I won’t be there, but please let me know if you will. The WRG Boat Club AGM will be held there: which kind member will offer to take the minutes? It could be YOU! Maesbury Rally 5-7 September (part of the ‘Monty 08’ series of events on the Montgomery): You may be too late if you haven’t booked your boat in, as there is very limited space. If so, join others who are mooring nearby and visiting. Again please let me know that you are about, visit the club house to ‘chill out’. I hope to see you ‘boating about’ somewhere. xx Sadie Dean 07748 186867 sadiedean@msn.com (I’ll pick it up at a library somewhere) (*) aka a paper pad and pencil - I am hoping poor Martin will type it up for me

Association of Waterways Cruising Clubs AGM 29 March, Stafford Boat Club As usual the meeting discussed British Waterways funding, the increased costs of boating, and considered how to influence decision makers to resolve these issues. Our guest speaker Joan Whalley, MP for Stoke-on-Trent North, provided some answers. She encouraged members to “get our MPs on-board” and lobby them not just in your own club / mooring area but those in the constituencies you cruise through. A way of getting your message across is to invite them to festivals and other events to see for themselves the benefits of the canal network and our heritage. If you ask them to make a speech, they also have to do their homework and learn more about issues and local concerns. She gave us an insight into an MP’s life and her involvement in Inland Waterways, stressing what has been achieved. Working together in partnerships had produced a great deal of investment and this she saw as a way forward to preserve, regenerate and improve access to and enjoyment of the waterways. Joan believed that pressure groups could make things happen with larger membership numbers counting. AWCC numbers of clubs, boats and crew add up to being influential. Apologies to the Erewash Canal Preservation and Development Association: my last report didn’t acknowledge that it was their Boat Rally at the end of May, and is to mark the group’s 40th anniversary and to celebrate 35 years since the restored Great Northern Basin at Langley Mill was reopened. Lynne Cater WRG Boat Club AWCC rep

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Navvies news Vans, horses and camps The Race Night

Vans update RFB replaces RFB which becomes BLK... We’ve bought another shiny new van which replaces R10RFB, whose registration we have transferred to the new van. But as we are keeping the old one for the summer, we have re-numbered it (to R757BLK). So when you hear old hands referring to ‘RFB’ while pointing at a van that’s clearly called BLK, you’ll know they aren’t necessarily completely mad.

Just finished cleaning the last floor and loading the lost property into the van... but there is just And speaking of the new van... time to write this quick list of thank you’s to all those who helped make the WRG Race Night a RFB has a feature not shown in the manual: hill great success on Saturday 10 May... start assist. Fundamentally it applies the brakes to prevent the van rolling backwards when you Brian Bayston - compere and bean cooker are doing a hill start and shows you it is doing Eli Mathieson - telepathic chef extraordinaire and this by displaying a green picture of a van on a always doing the job you were thinking should be slope. It only applies the brakes for a couple of next on the list seconds... Basically you can let it get on with its Alan and Rosemary Whiffen - bean counting and job but at least now you will know what the rhubarb rustling light means when you see it! Rhiannon Smith, MkII and Ed walker - Tote-tastic MKP and Eddie - AV suppliers to the stars Explore the P&A Race Sponsors - The Tarrants, The Williamsons, Harry Watts, NW Tea Cup Mafia, Lee Sanitation, Readers might be interested in visits to the Chris & Sharon Spencer, John & Tess Hawkins Portsmouth & Arundel including the length and Mr Anonymous - you know who you are....... of the original main line that isn’t currently Horse sponsors - and congratulations to the winners! under restoration by Chichester Ship Canal Bushbaby - maitre d’ and Interior Decorator Trust. There’s a walk around Chichester Basin Womble - for letting me gatecrash her training weekend and visit to Poynts Swingbridge on June 28 Everyone on the training weekend who helped clear and again on September 14, a walk from their stuff, washed up and joined in on the night Barnham to Hunston on July 5, and a walk Lichfield and Hatherton Canal Trust for hosting the from Barnham to Ford on September 13. training weekend and joining us for dinner (and Contact Adge Ro berts 01903 773575 or Bob’s screen) Linda Wilkinson 01243 576701 for details. Everyone else who turned up on the night Chase Terrace Scouts and their Hall (with excellent Camp Reports kitchen AND showers!).

. . . . . . . . . . . . .

Thank you. There should be a four-figure sum wending its way to the Barge Lock Appeal - enjoy spending it during the camps this summer!! Jude Palmer

Would you bet good money with these guys?

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By the time you read this the first summer By the time you read this the first summer Canal Camps will be only a week or two away, so that means it will soon be time for you to put pen to paper (or finger to laptop more likely) and start writing some canal camp reports for Navvies. We’d really appreciate it if you can get the reports from the first few sent in as soon as possible so they can appear in issue 230, rather than try to find space for them all in the following issue. I’m counting on some of you to come up with novel ideas (we’ve had them in biblical style, popular song form, and even in the format of a school science lab report!) - but they’re still welcome if you choose to just write them in the style of a Navvies camp report!

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 Apologies for getting Liz Wilson’s new address wrong again last time. It is: 19 Widford House, Colebrooke Row, London N1 8DD. Don’t forget to tell Navvies if you move Coming Soon(ish)

Navvies Directory The next issue 230 will include the full directory of WRG and canal society working party contact details. If your canal society has a new work party organiser, or you aren’t running work parties any more, or you’re a new group that hasn’t appeared in the directory before, or your contact has moved house or changed email address, or you have a new website... PLEASE TELL THE EDITOR BY JULY 1

Please sponsor

The WRG Reunion Bonfire Bash on the Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation Booking form next time, in the meantime mark the date in your diary: November 1 - 2

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.

Another new arrival... ...only this time it’s not a baby, it’s the latest WRG van, ‘new RFB’ - see opposite

WRGbikes and help the Droitwich Barge Lock Appeal

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

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Can Deirdre help with your problem?

WRG’s very own agony aunt answers your most personal questions

Dear Deirdre

I’m an accountant with a good career and a nice flat and girlfriend, but I have this odd compulsion to go away to a random place every weekend and sleep in a cold scout hut whilst wearing old clothes covered in cement dust. None of my friends have the same urges. It’s starting to destroy my relationships and I’m getting crippling back pain. Can you help? Deirdre writes: Sure I can help. What’s the problem?

Dear Deirdre,

Martin Ludgate

I worry about my drinking. Usually I don’t drink at all during the week and then at weekends I usually drink at least 4 pints of whatever my friends are drinking. After that I often feel sick. Is my drinking a problem? I’m 22. Deirdre writes: you have to tackle your drinking problem. A person your age should be aiming for at least twice what you are currently managing to consume. As a rough guide, you should aim for around 14 units a night (that’s 12 glasses of whatever’s in the barrel, a half bottle of Tesco Value Vodka or around 2 bottles of whatever wine you can blag during dinner). Try to raise your limit by gradually increasing your drinking during the week and learn to suppress the gag reflex when downing cheap spirits. You may also find it helpful to drink on an empty stomach. It may seem difficult at first but if you feel like giving up, try and visualise all your friends standing around Never heard 4 Links Way called a manor before! you in a circle chanting ‘Lightweight! Lightweight!’ whilst you cry like the little girl that you are. If that doesn’t work, reflect on the fact you’re letting the whole camp down, you big wuss.

Dear Deirdre,

I have really big ears and I’m worried boys won’t like me. Should I save up for plastic surgery? Deirdre writes: fortunately there’s a much cheaper solution. Find a safety hat in a colour that suits you (green becomes most people) and tell everyone some concrete fell in there and now it’s stuck to your head forever. If anyone tries to chisel it off, cry and say you have bad dandruff. Have you got a personal problem that Deirdre might be able to help with? Just write to Deirdre via the Editor’s address or email deirdre@wrg.org.uk.

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A notice mysteriously appeared on the fence of the volunteer compound at Little Venice Canalway Cavalcade carrying the following text...

Homo wergiensis

This compound contains some interesting specimens of Homo wergiensis, a species closely related to Homo sapiens. H. wrgie, as it is known, was first described by Palmer and Arnold in the 1970s, but is believed to have existed in secret for many years prior to that.


It is quite unusual to find H. wrgie in an urban environment such as this; they are normally to be seen lurking about in rural habitats, usually near old watercourses. This group was attracted here by placing the Dualit toaster and Burcos on a table, and within a few hours the first specimens had arrived and assembled the typical fenced area around them. Sleeping accommodation has been provided on the old boats behind you – this is always a popular move, as in the wild wrgies’ sleeping arrangements are best described as basic.


H wrgie is probably the most omnivorous species known to man. The diet is widely varied, and invariably involves some form of

on Homo wergiensis alcohol, although subspecies H wrgie veggie and H wrgie vegan have been recorded.


The breeding habits of H wrgie are something of a mystery, as normally only mature specimens aged between 18 and 70 can be found. Wrgies younger than this are very seldom seen. Older wrgies have been known to shed the typical bright red colouration for the blue “eclipse” colouration. This mimics the blue which appears on the related species Homo iwa. It’s thought that they do this in order to avoid having to do any hard work around the nest site. Much more research is needed into the habits and distribution of this fascinating animal. You can find out how to contribute by visiting the website dedicated to them, www.wrg.org.uk. It is also possible to subscribe to the research journal Navvies, which contains details of recent sightings of the species.

WRGieotypes No 4: The WRG baby Some parents put their children down for Eton before they’re even born. Mike and Helen have had baby down to lead the Bonfire Bash in 2026. Perfect timing so long as Helen Good head for keeps to her due date at the end of leadership October, so baby’ll just have turned 18. ‘It won’t change anything, we’ll still be digging’ Mike and Helen tell people. ‘We’ll still be at the National. Mike can cook and baby can sleep in the van, Roger’ll keep an eye on her, won’t you Rog?” (“Woof” says Roger). After all, those EthioBuggy will be pian women just strap the useful later for baby to their backs and carry transporting tools on harvesting yams, right? to site Unfortunately baby turns out to be delicate and objects loudly to being left anywhere, especially in vans. Roger’s a nervous wreck. Anyone know a good babysitter?

Strong arms for Tirforing

Strong constitution for eating lasagne from typical village hall kitchens

Bred for complete indifference to the cold and rain

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Profile for The Inland Waterways Association

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