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volunteers restoring waterways

navvies waterway recovery group

Issue No 239 February-March 2010

Navvies Production Editor: Martin Ludgate, 35 Silvester Road, East Dulwich London SE22 9PB 020-8693 3266 martin.ludgate@wrg.org.uk Subscriptions: Sue Watts, 15 Eleanor Rd., Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Manchester M21 9FZ

Navvies is published by Waterway Recovery Group, Island House, Moor Rd., Chesham HP5 1WA 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.

Martin Ludgate

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

Waterway Recovery Group is part of The Inland Waterways Association, (registered office: Island House, Moor Road, Chesham HP5 1WA). 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.

Š 2010 WRG

Mike Chase

ISSN: 0953-6655

Tim Lewis

Directors of WRG: Rick Barnes, John Baylis, Mick Beattie, Malcolm Bridge, James Butler, Spencer Collins, Christopher Davey, George Eycott, John Hawkins, Judith Palmer, Michael Palmer, Jonathan Smith, Harry Watts.

Visit our web site www.wrg.org.uk for page 2

Contents In this issue... Chairman some interesting new sites 4-5 Coming soon Barn Dance, Easter camp, BCN Cleanup, Cavalcade, Training 6-9 Camp reports Wilts & Berks, Wilts & Berks, Wilts & Berks and Wilts & Berks 8-17 WRG at 40 First two of 40 interviews18-22 Survey best and worst accommodation 23 Diary canal camps and weekend digs 24-26 Letters slipways and cider 27-28 Progress restoration roundup 29-33 Dig Deep update from the south 34-35 WRG NW a year in the life 36-38 London WRG on the Cotswolds 39-41 Directory WRG and canal societies 42-44 News and the latest from WRG Boat Club45 Noticeboard dredger drivers needed 46 Infill including Dear Deirdre 47 Above What’s happening at Lock 47 on the Cheshire Locks? See Chairman’s Comment, p4-5. Far left Tirforing on the New Year Camp: see p12-13. Left there’s life north of Watford: see WRG NW report, p37-39. Below book now for the BCN Cleanup, see p6-7. Front cover group photo on the London WRG / KESCRG / WRGSW Christmas dig at Calne on the Wilts & Berks: see p8-9 (pic: Martin Ludgate). Back cover Site for three camps this year, the Chelmer & Blackwater (Helen Dobbie)

Contributions... ...are always welcome, whether handwritten, 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 of large files it is best 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 240: March 1st.

Martin Ludgate

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


“Some believe that BW are paid by the Government to do this, but there is no question of them opening this lock without our help...”

MKP on logistics and Burslem

Chairman’s Comment We had a WRG committee meeting recently. It was a little unusual, in that it was in a tent with snow on the ground and most of us covered in red paint, but that’s not important right now. The important bit is that everything seems to be going quite well. In particular the planning for the camps is looking really good. I am aware that around this time of year there are some tricky decisions to be made - do you go for one of the regular “safe” sites or do you go for one of the new “wackier” sites and risk the chance of the permissions not coming through in time and the work changing at the last minute? Well the good news is that for pretty much all the wackier camps we now have leaders appointed and the locals are really getting their act together. So if you ever fancied trying somewhere new then this year is the time to do it. One significant change this year will be that the logistics arrangements for our camps will be different. For years now the Camps trailers, and all the toys in them, have been looked after by Jen Leigh. This is one of the most disheartening jobs in the organisation the kit gets terrible abuse over the summer and the shiny kit you sent out in June returns a sorry state in September. What is amazing over all these years is that Jen never let this defeat her attention to detail and perfection - a tool painted by Jen was a work of art and her determination to help the camps by making sure they had the ”The Right Tool For The Right Job” resulted in our catering kit having the weirdest (but useful) things in it. However, everyone deserves a break and the truth is that, with the kit getting ever more complex, it is just not possible for one person to look after all the Camps kit and hold down any form of job, external life, etc. So last year Jen asked us if she could step down and if we could find someone else to do it. Which brings us back to why we were standing in a tent covered in paint but before I go onto that I do need to properly thank Jen. There are very few jobs in wrg where your efforts genuinely touch everyone else in the organisation. We passionately believe in The Right Tool For The Right Job and anyone who has ever picked up a shovel, mattock or garlic press on a wrg camp will have benefited from Jen’s efforts. Thank you Jen from all of us. So back to a tent covered in red paint; because the logistics operation is such a key part of our work and it is just not fair to expect one person to undertake it we have decided on a more “distributed” approach to it. Hence a team of about ten of us spent a week emailing each other saying “hmm do you think the snow will clear by Saturday?” before finally saying “what the heck, lets go for it” and heading off to our secret tool base in the Midlands and tried to get all the kit to be the same colour (red in case you hadn’t guessed). Whilst this plan will mean a bigger, more ad-hoc team looking after the kit I am very pleased to say that Brian Bayston has offered to keep a watching brief over the overall quality and quantity of the kit. Our continued thanks to Tom and Rachel Jeffries who generously give us some space to store (and paint) all our gear out of season. The toolpainting weekend was very successful and my thanks to all who came and helped shape the contents of the trailers this year. It was a strange but enjoyable event and we seem to have a few more strange events on the horizon and I just thought I like to run them past you. First up is the British Leisure Show - this is a new event in Windsor that may well have lots of our sort of people attending, so our new mobile publicity stand will be making its third trip out. Jenny Black is looking after this and I think she has enough people to staff the stand but beware if you live near there and she offers you a drink in the immediate future. We also have the usual suspects of the BCN Clean Up on 17-18 April and the Train-

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Steve Wood

ing Weekend (12-13 June). Another, now traditional, event is our Leaders Training Day (May 15th), where we hope to bring our leaders (or potential leaders) up to speed with some changes we are making to make life easier for them. See our ‘Coming Soon’ pages overleaf for more about all of these events. Finally, one double project we are also running (which I foolishly said I would lead) is a joint expeditionary force to the North Midlands to attempt to explore both Burslem Port and Cheshire locks. Burslem Port, an old arm of the Trent & Mersey Canal near Stoke, has been a long running project that finally looks like it has enough influential people backing it to start Clearance gets under way at Burslem Port making progress. As a result we have been asked to do some excavations around the buildings by the junction to find out what value the remaining bits are and to try and show people that the waste ground they have looked out at for years could actually be dug up and turned back into a canal. This may seem something of a token effort - we will probably have to fill it back in again once the archeologists have had a good poke around - but it is just this sort of token effort that started most of the restorations we all work on, so it is worth us putting some effort in. At the same time as this job we will also be working on one of the duplicate locks added to the Cheshire Locks flights on the Trent and Mersey Canal in the 19th Century to increase capacity, a number of which are now derelict/closed which is causing a real pinchpoint. Lock 47 was closed years ago for (possibly spurious) reasons and is now so silted up that it needs a good clean out before any engineering decisions can be made. It could be that the lock is itself is Ok and just needs a wash and brush up or it may need major work. To investigate this commercially, only for it to prove too expensive to repair, is too much of a risk for a cash-strapped BW and so we are going to clear it for them. I know there are some who believe that BW are paid by the Government to do this anyway, but there is no question of them opening this lock without our help and, at a time when they are investigating their third-sector possibilities it would be churlish not to experiment with them to find a good way of working. The plan is a joint accommodation over five days with about fifteen people going to whichever site needs them most - so careful excavation and investigation or sloppy ploppy fun depending on your mood when you wake up in the morning! More details soon but if you are interested then keep 22-26 April free. Another change that has occurred in WRG is Malcolm Bridge has retired from both the Board and the position of Plant Manager. Again Malcolm thought that, as he had retired from work 10 years ago, it was probably time he actually had some free time to enjoy life rather than spending his evening worrying about obselete hydraulic filters and his weekends sitting in a layby waiting for his tacho break to end! My thanks to Malcolm for all his time on the Board and all those “bloody stupid beavertail journeys” that seem to come with the job. I’m quite inspired by all these changes - technically we are about to be middle aged (well 40 anyway) and correspondingly we have a huge body of experience and ability but its all too easy to feel just a bit knackered; the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak, etc. Which is why we need to keep regenerating* and I’m glad that we always seem to find someone to take over and bring new enthusiasm to the role. Finally, some people said nice things about my last Navvies comment. It is, of course, nice to hear someone is reading them. I have a few more big questions I might be challenging you all with but I think they should wait until the next edition. Whilst it is a vibrant time in the waterways arena with some other bodies presenting exciting ideas it’s important to remember that it is very much business as usual for us - let’s make it a really great 2010 and I hope to see you (and Jen and Malcolm) on a site somewhere this year. Mike Palmer * Hmmm — possibility of a Dr Who spoof don’t you think?

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Coming soon

Want to be a camp leader? If so, please tell James. Not sure if you want to be a camp leader? Come to the leader training and find out

Barn dance, leader training...

Coming soon: 20-plus weeks of canal camps for 2010 Well, yes, we’ve put together an excellent programme of canal camps for this year, with some new sites as well as some old favourites. James will be along to tell you in a minute, but first we’d just like to mention one other thing happening very soon...

Probably the last Barn Dance reminder The annual Navvies’ Charity Barn Dance, run by WRG and KESCRG, will take place on Saturday 6th March 2010 at 7.00pm. It is being held at Benson Parish Hall, Sunnyside, Benson, OX10 6LZ. If you need directions just ask. Tickets are limited (due to fire regulations), so book now. The price is £12 and now includes stew and potato supper. When ordering tickets please state how many of the following: meat – veggie. You can stay over for an extra £2. Breakfast is available for another £2. If possible please donate a raffle prize. For all enquiries (including on the night) contact me on barndance@kescrg.org.uk or 07807 456235. See you there! Adrian Crow

OK now about those canal camps... But first, before we tell you about the camps, James would like a few words about leaders... Happy New Year everyone. Yes, it is that time again for you to all run away and hide from me and fill your diaries up with washing your hair or feeding the fish this summer! But please don’t. I have a great reason for why you should be a leader in 2010. Not only is it the start of the “teenies” but also it is wrg’s 40th birthday year. Just think in many years to come in the next Navvies DVD, or whatever will have long since replaced the DVD by then, your name will be down in history as a leader, assistant leader, co-leader, or even cook in this memorable year! We have loads of exciting camps to come along too, and although we’ve recruited a fair number of leaders already we’ve still got a fair number of gaps to fill. Have a look at the chart on the opposite page and all those spaces! For information about each site’s work, have a quick browse through the new brochure or go to the wrg web site. (www.wrg.org.uk) First come first served, so book that sunny summer sun shine now on a canal camp. Don’t book it somewhere sunnier like Barbados or the Maldives, just in case your tour operator liquidises! Wrg has a good reputation for not liquidising people! If you want to be a leader please email me at james.butler@wrg.org.uk or at leaders@wrg.org.uk. But if you’re really not sure, read the next bit by Helen Gardner for how to get some really useful information and helpful advice... James Butler

WRG Leader Training Day Thought about leading or assisting on a WRG camp but wanted to find out more? Been involved in a local canal society and interested in the WRG point of view? Led more camps than Ludgate has had pints of beer and have plenty of advice for everyone else? Got drunk and got volunteered to assist on a camp this summer and wondering exactly what you let yourself in for? Came to the leader’s training last year and enjoyed it so much you want more? Got a bee in your bonnet about an aspect of running a canal camp and need to get it off your chest? Led a camp a while ago and want to brush up on the latest info?

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Book now for the 2010 BCN Cleanup: a chance to play your part in the taming of the Tame Valley Canal

Then what?

Cleanup, Cavalcade and lots more

Then the WRG leaders’ training day is for you. This year it will be at the WRG container storage area in the midlands on Saturday 15th May 2010 (that way we can see the heart of the WRG machine and become a little more familiar with the kit before you open the trailer in front of 15 brand new volunteers). We’ve also made it slightly later so that the list of leaders might be a little more definite. To book on or find out more information please contact Jenny Black at Head Office or Helen Gardner 07989 425346 (helen_gardner@hotmail.com). Difficult questions and suggestions of agenda items should be directed to me. Helen Gardner

And finally, about those camps... Ah yes, you’ll be wanting to know what’s happening on the first couple of camps this year. Well, it’s looking like you might have missed the first one already by the time you read this, but we’ll tell you what you’ve missed so you’ll be even more keen to go on the next one and there are two more this year on the same site. Over to Dave ‘Moose’ Hearnden: This year’s first camp is on 13th – 20th February on the Chelmer and Blackwater. I’m Leader, assistant is our Alan Wiffen and the cook is Maria. So Alan and I will make you work and Maria will keep you well fed. As I write this there is snow all over the place, so I hope the work will still go on as planned, that is to demolish an access/accommodation bridge over the Canal near Maldon, Essex. The finer details are still to be put in place etc, i.e. accommodation (might be a boat!) site access etc, nothing too hard!

Canal Camps 2010: dates, sites, leaders, cooks appointed to date No 1001 1002 1003 1004 1005 1006 1007 1008 1009 1010 1011 1012 1013 1014 1015 1016 1017 1018 1019 1020 1021 1022

Start Feb 13th Apr 2nd Jun 26th Jun 26th Jul 3rd Jul 3rd Jul 10th Jul 10th Jul 17th Jul 17th Jul 24th Jul 24th Jul 31st Jul 31st Aug 7th Aug 7th Aug 7th Aug 14th Aug 14th Aug 21st Oct 23rd Oct 23rd

End Feb 20th Apr 10th Jul 3rd Jul 3rd Jul 10th Jul 10th Jul 17th Jul 17th Jul 24th Jul 24th Jul 31st Jul 31st Aug 7th Aug 7th Aug 14th Aug 14th Aug 14th Aug 21st Aug 21st Sep 4th Oct 30th Oct 30th

Site Kit Leader Assistant Chelmer & Blackwater A Dave Hearnden Alan Wiffen W&B: Steppingstones A Martin Thompson Ian Bunn Cotswold: Goughs A Montgomery B Alan Jarvis Cotswold: Goughs A Martyn Worsley Clive Knight Montgomery B Cotswold: Goughs A Chesterfield B Mike Chase Cotswold: Goughs A Grantham B Harry Watts Cotswold: Eisey A KESCRG leaders Grantham B Ed Walker Gordon Brown Cotswold: Eisey A Martin Thompson George Rogers Chelmer & Blackwater B Mon & Brec A Basingstoke B Cotswold: Eisey NWPG leaders Mon & Brec A Basingstoke B National A+BMitch Gozna Kirsty Wallace Grand Western A Mark Richardson Kirsty Wallace Chelmer & Blackwater B

Cook Maria Alderman Debbie Curtis

Harri Barnes

Mitch Gozna

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As we speak the Risk Assessments are being done, but basically we will moor a boat in the bridge hole and demolish the bridge from above, the boat being there to catch any tools that might fall down through the gap, remember tools cost money! (We do plan to stop people falling through the gaps, because of the mess and the delays it can cause!) The bridge is made up of RSJ’s across the canal, with a thin layer of wood, with a covering of up to six inches of concrete. Tools will be Kangos, sledge hammers, wrecking bars etc. We need to demolish it in a week, because the following week contractors should then build a new bridge. Now the difference: remember this canal is run by a subsidiary of IWA (who took it over to save it when the old company went bust) on a limited budget, and it is an open canal - and what we’re doing is vital to keep it open. Due to the nature of the work the numbers will be limited to 15. Bookings to be made direct to Head Office. OK in case you’ve missed that one, let’s hear about the next camp at Easter, working on Steppingstones Bridge on the Wilts & Berks. Here’s leader Martin Thompson... This is really the last, “one more camp will do it”, the last chance to say I was there at SSLB! The bridge parapet walls are built, the mass fill for the track is in, what is there to do? Well the scaffolding is to be removed, the track surface over the bridge completed, canal under the bridge cleaned out, wing walls completed, landscaping and towpath reinstatement, Phew! And... with the bridge open to the public, the diversion byway can be closed and reinstated. Honest “one more camp will do it” and it will be the last!! Accommodation will be at the very desirable Watchfield Village Hall. Fancy the full 10 days from March 27 to April 5, or the long Easter weekend or maybe just a week, the choice is yours!

BCN Cleanup on the Tame Valley Canal. April 17-18 We told you about it last time, so just a quick reminder that the annual ‘BCN Fishing Match’ when we spend the weekend throwing in grapping hooks and hauling all sorts of stuff out of the lesser-used canals of the Black Country is coming soon. Fill in the form below, and for more details contact WRG organiser Aileen Butler on 07703 567764 or see www.wrg.org.uk

waterway recovery group

in association with BCNS, BW and IWA

I would like to attend the 2010 National Canal Cleanup on April 17-18 on the BCN Forename:


Address: email: Phone:

Any special dietary requirements?

I require accommodation Friday night / Saturday night / both nights I enclose payment of £

(pay 'WRG') for food (£11 for whole weekend)

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


Signed: Please send this form to: National Cleanup bookings, WRG, Island House, Moor Road, Chesham HP5 1WA

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Canalway Cavalcade, Little Venice, May 1-3 Hi All, Moose here again. just a quick update on the IWA Canalway Cavalvade at Little Venice over the May Day holiday weekend. At the time of writing this we have 105 boats booked in, Jerry, the Commercial Manager, as normal is selling trade stands fast, no doubt he will be pulling out all the stops and see if we can have more market stalls to erect than ever before. And well-known TV stars and waterways supporters Timothy West and Prunella Scales should be opening the event. For those who were there last year, we are aiming to have the same site layout, with the caterers and the bar on ‘our’ side of the canal by the accommodation and the rest of the traders along the tow path. So what I am after is willing volunteers, who will help to put the event together. The work could be fencing (nothing compared to the amount at the National Festival but still important) the proverbial market stall, plus there could be a boat ride to go and collect them or at least take them back! Plus the normal but just as important work of a festival site crew. What I will give you in exchange is a very up market bed-space in a boat! You’ll probably be on NB Belfast, but I’m sure Bungle will be very happy in Opportunity! In fairness Belfast is perhaps not what you would call up market but it does have a toilet and the luxury of a shower, as long as the water tank is full! And as for the event itself: Where else can you work on a waterways festival in the middle of London? Set up work starts from Wednesday 28th April, the Festival is the weekend of the May Bank Hoilday 1st - 3rd May, and then we take it all down - should all be done by Tuesday night, so NB Belfast can move out Wednesday Morning. If you are interested please contact me, do not just turn up as there might not be a spare bunk! Dave ‘Moose’ Hearnden, Moose_dave@hotmail.com, 07961 922153

WRG Training Weekend 2010 June 12th/13th Another year has just begun which for me can only mean one thing… time to get something in Navvies about Training. Postponing it from its traditional May slot to June seemed to work quite well last year so we have decided to go for the same time this year as well. This should give people lots of time to have a think about their camps and weekend work and decide where the training needs are. As always, we are open to and indeed would welcome suggestions as to the sort of skills you feel you or ideally a group of volunteers may need for projects this year. The usual suspects should be on offer – vans, trailers, dumpers, excavators, loading and securing plant, levels, First Aid, Banksman, and perhaps the ‘Scaffolding,’ ‘Setting up site/small machinery and tools’ or ‘Preparing for Bricklaying’ sessions that have been deemed very worthwhile in recent years. There are no doubt many other useful skills that we could add to this list and possibly arrange – such as catering for a camp, using digital tachographs or chippers – so please make your suggestions known early on and we will do our best to set something up. A plea, as always, goes out to those of you who so readily give up your weekend to make the training possible. If you are an instructor who has volunteered for training weekends in the past or indeed if you think you could offer some expertise, please get in touch before I track you down! Training will probably take place somewhere in the middle of the country – when we know anything about a site, we will let you know! All are welcome, regardless of prior experience - you might want to drop in for one of the days or make a weekend of it. Accommodation will be available from Friday night. Hope to see you there! Bookings, suggested courses and enquiries to me on telephone: 07719 643870 or 0191 422 5469 or e-mail: aliwomble@fsmail.net Ali Bottomley

Next issue: preview of the first part of the summer camps programme

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Dig report Wilts & Berks (1): Calne

Down on the Wilts & Berks, there’s a lot of tirforing going on and some dressing up as rag dolls too!

sizes and degrees of confusion bounded around the dining room, hotly pursued by a wild pack of children, some of whom bore A Polish Passion, as sold by the Dirty Martini traces of the babe in arms they had been at last year’s Christmas party. It’s like the circle cocktail bar and club in London’s Covent Garden, consists of vodka, apple juice, cran- of life, or something. In the conservatory, Mel was stirring an berry juice, peach schnapps and passion absurdly large pot of soup. Things seemed fruit. It is sublime, but an overconsumption may cause you to miss the first 24 hours of suspiciously calm in the kitchen. In the dinthe London/KESCRG Christmas party. Be ing room 50 hungry mouths were muttering anxiously. “You wouldn’t believe how much warned. For information on the first day’s work, please speak to someone who was ginger I saw him put in that”. Vegetarians wept and rent their clothes. Who let Bungle there. As far as I’m concerned, the party cook? Doesn’t anyone remember that lasadoesn’t start until I arrive. gne? Seven thirty came and Mark II led the Turning up at 5pm on Saturday I engrace (only joking). Soup was hot and thick quired how the first day’s work had gone. and extremely tasty. Most importantly it was “Kay. Spose” came the grunted reply. The mood was a little flat. It seems not everyone plentiful. Homemade bread contributed by had had quite enough to do on site and there Ellie was a nice touch. We all licked our spoons clean and set them aside – we’d need had been a bit too much standing around in them for the pudding course. In the short the nipping cold. But now the showers were interval before the main course, the fancy hot and the beer was plentiful. Soon everyone began to cheer up. Hounds of all shapes, dress competition was judged.

Christmas at Calne LWRG / KESCRG / SW Xmas dig

Grappling with a three-Tirfor stump

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Martin Ludgate and Helen Dobbie won best costume award for an exceptionally well-crafted Rosie and Jim, only missing out on a perfect score because Rosie had a beard. Amy also wins the award for most creative use of workgloves this year. Our clapping of the winners sent wire haired Jack Russell Molly into a frenzy of excited barking. There followed baked meats, a generous mountain of roasties, parsnips, carrots, stuffing and lashings of gravy. Mercifully we were spared sprouts and even the veggies were not neglected. Bungle received a round of applause which sent Molly off again. Adam ‘Digger’ Morris received this year’s KESCRG most useful person award In Absentia. Molly bounced off all four walls and the ceiling. More clapping as everyone agreed Ed and Mark Two had done a grand job organising. By now Molly was foaming at the mouth. There followed a selection of desserts: apparently something strange had happened to the chocolate orange layer but my Christmas pudding was delicious. We enjoyed a quiz compered by Mark II and then an unexpected bonus: a cheese course. By now only a handful were still awake. Talk was of WRG politics, plans for next years’ camps, who fancies who and t-shirt durability. After a breakfast heroically cooked by Helen ‘Bushbaby’ and Suzie, we departed for a site which was wet underfoot but otherwise clear skied

and fairly mild. It was a complicated sort of place with 2 waterways running parallel within a few feet of each other; one a swollen and raging river, the other a stagnant and tranquil canal branch covered in vibrant green algae. A large number of paths met here and I have never seen so many dog walkers, joggers, cyclists and families pass through an area in one day. It was a doggy motorway. One team lugged the Tirfors down a muddy path to where the canal petered out and became just boggy ground. They spent the day tirforing on a steep and muddy slope with difficult access, on ground that was boggy. The rest of us worked on the narrow peninsula between the water courses, felling rotten trees and cutting them up with a party from WRG forestry. We got a good bonfire going. After working until 2pm without rain, we headed back to the accommodation for a late lunch and a mammoth clean up. Many people made themselves extremely useful this weekend but special mentions go to Ed and Mark II for leading, Bungle for cooking and Mel and Ellie for supervising Bungle. Bonus points also to everyone who turned up whilst ill or nursing a Fancy dress theme was ‘kids TV’ newborn. - can you guess who they are? Sophie Smith

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Camp report Wilts & Berks (2): Pewsham

Meanwhile on the Wilts & Berks, Pewsham Locks are emerging from several decades of decay - and some explosives practice...

Pewsham lock camp There’s a trick to writing these camp reports and that trick is to do them immediately after you return. Bung on a heavy soil wash and sit straight down in front of the laptop, that’s my advice. Otherwise the real world takes over and you find yourself scratching your head and thinking “what the hell was that local in the wax jacket called?” and “why were we demolishing that culvert?” and “what the hell’s a culvert anyway?” So here I am six months later, Martin Ludgate’s nagging still ringing in my ears, trying to think back to those golden days at Pewsham locks. I know I had a damn good time assisting Nat Belderson to lead around 20 excellent volunteers, so good in fact I signed up without coercion to help lead another this year. Other memories rush back: tree roots entwined round ancient brickwork, the slam of a van door, a newt nestling in the palm of my hand. And was there something about a badger sett we needed to avoid? It’s all coming back to me in snatches. We worked on a flight of 3 locks in varying states of disrepair. Already disused, the structures were used for explosives practice during the time of the Second World War.

All pics supplied by Nat Belderson

“There was a permanent gang on brick cleaning”

Hand excavation of the middle lock

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Our excavation work revealed how damaged and rearranged the brickwork was. Concentrating on the middle chamber we used hand tools to remove soil and bring out tree roots; Pete and Martyn were particularly heroic here. Local Mario brought in an excavator to chomp up the pit and we all formed a chain gang to pull out the salvaged bricks for reuse. I have strong memories of diving into the pit rescuing frogs before the digger got to them. There was a permanent gang on brick cleaning duty and lots of wading about in silty mud trying to improve drainage. Our work in the pound above all 3 locks revealed a surprising number of old glass bottles and odds and ends of metal: the rims of wheels, old leather boot soles, rusty buckets. We stripped off the layers of ivy to reveal the shape of the basin and found a bees’ nest and several newts. Meanwhile a party of more experienced and skilled workers concentrated on a culvert further downstream, where Antony had a particularly spectacular fall over a wheelbarrow. Accommodation at Maud Heath guiding centre was excellent, although there was some confusion over whether we had exclusive use of the hall or not. This caused some friction which we managed to smooth over. The village of East Tytherton was charming. Although there was no pub within walking distance, a Jack Russell terrier ran a small

Culvert repair: try not to fall over the barrow

straight from the beginning and there were few pastoral problems. Angela was a real brick helping me with the catering and the two D of E boys more than earned their badges, Pauline soldiered on through terrible toothache, Antony sorted the recycling, Rob put in the man-hours on the jigsaw, Paul Ireson was always ready to help out, Laurence turned up in the small hours after a long day at work, the village welcomed us and the onsite locals (particularly Mario) were energetic, reliable and helpful. Thanks to everyone I haven’t mentioned as well. Sophie Smith

poultry farm at one end of the village. Going out every morning before breakfast you would find a few eggs left in a basket outside the farm gates and the terrier would solemnly watch you count your money into a margarine tub left for the purpose. It was a smoothly-run enterprise and the multicoloured eggs were delicious: there’s no reason why more dogs shouldn’t be encouraged into micro-enterprise schemes. One wonders if there might be less hostility to dogs on site if they could be persuaded to set up and run small businesses. I suggest Sandy might try panel beating, and Ace and Bess might enter into a partnership supplying quality coffee during tea breaks. Being assistant leader was as tough as I’d imagined but I hadn’t realised that being a driver would mean very little drinking all week. That meant there was no ‘switch off’ point during the day when the cork popped, Mechanical excavation of the top lock and being on duty 24/7 got pretty wearing. I’m not saying I’m totally alcohol-dependant, but by Wednesday my hands were shaking so badly I accidentally mattocked myself in the shin. On the social front, we managed quite a few trips to local pubs, completed numerous jigsaw puzzles and even heard a talk from a bat expert about the colony nesting in the eaves of the accommodation building. One of the week’s stranger highlights was Martyn putting out a hedge fire he happened to spot on the way back from site one evening. Everyone mucked in “In varying states of disrepair”. The lock’s not looking too good either

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Camp report

And on the Wilts & Berks, Moose, Ian and the team are clearing scrub from the Pocket Park - and struggling to get their fires going...

Wilts & Berks (3): Shrivenham

before they could take anything of a decent size other than twigs. The scary thing was Tim, he who has put out more fires than he has lit, actually got his fire going fairly well, fairly quickly (just after morning tea break!) but only once. We had a couple of brush cutters and a couple tirfors also working around the site (until one broke its shear pin and there was no spare?), also a couple of Land Rover mounted winches - boys and their toys... By the last day on site, the whole area had changed dramatically. Another day or so would have seen it all done. But the locals were already commenting on how much space there was now. During the week, we met up with the other Wilts and Berks camp and had a skittles evening but obviously they had not been working hard enough on site as they were

All photos by Tim Lewis

Hi All! Just a short report regarding the WRG Xmas camp, hopefully a full report in the next Navvies. I was leading the camp with Ian Bunn as my assistant and Maria cooking; we were staying in the village hall at Watchfield, which is a nice hall with two showers and plenty of room. We had up to 25 people over the week. The work site was at the Pocket Park in Shrivenham. We had to do a simple cut, slash and a bit of burning, the area to be attacked was in a rectangle shape and three side bordered ditches. Easy! The plan was to have one large fire being fed by all that was cut, but it didn’t really work out that way and on the second day on site we started two extra fires, just to keep up with how much was being cut down. I always thought I was fairly successful at starting fires and getting them to burn, but what with the trees we were cutting being blackthorn, hawthorn, and only a couple other trees, the quality was not there and it was wet and on several occasions also frozen. The fires in the morning took so long to get going that it would be lunch time

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too fresh and I have to admit they beat us 2 games to 1. But I must look into the rules of geriatrics (as most of their camp was old enough) using Zimmer frames as a stabiliser! (Come to think about it Luke must have been the youngest and he is looking old these days) Anyway it was a very enjoyable evening. The local hostelry looked after us and the beer was not bad! And we entered three teams in the pub quiz, and came away having come 1st and 2nd. Other entertainment was to a cinema etc, but I think Ian and I made them work too hard. Then after the meals cooked by Maria (with help from Adrian) they were too fat and full to go anywhere! On the final evening Maria, again assisted by Adrian, who had rushed back off

site, washed, changed and got into the kitchen to help, between them produced a lovely three course meal followed by cheese and biscuits, so we were all set up to see the New Year in up at the pub. As ever, the Christmas camp was a great laugh, with many regular faces and a few new ones, and with an assistant leader who is thinking about leading a camp in the future. Dave ‘Moose’ Hearnden

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Camp report Wilts & Berks (4): Seven Locks The Alternative Wilts & Berks Christmas Camp 26th December - 3rd January

Reporting from the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust’s own New Year Camp on the... err... Wilts & Berks

increasingly rainy and sleety, and we had to pack up and get back to the accommodation to dry out by 2pm. We also had heavy overnight rain that night, so by Wednesday the pound below Lock 1 was up to full height, and apart from putting out yesterday’s bonfire, there was no way we could reach the trees on the offside. We cleared the saplings along the towpath edge, built a new bonfire, and finished work at 3 pm. Thursday was our ‘away day’, working at Foxham. Helped by our local plant expert, John Harrod, we had to bolt down the bascule bridge above the lock to prevent it

It was good to see most of our Christmas Camp friends back again, puts two and a quarter new ones! We discovered that there are now three WRGies called Taz: Pilot Taz (male), Welsh Taz (female) and Small Black Taz (canine). The last named is quite partial to the odd sausage for breakfast, but then again the others probably are as well. Apart from not having showers, the Foxham Reading Rooms are ideal for a smallish winter camp, snug and comfortable. The weather over the period was at times bitterly cold, and with two wet days, but with big bonfires every day on site, and good food and warm accommodation, we coped pretty well. We started Boxing Day morning with four of us, two more at teatime, and with others adding to the party ever the next 2-3 days, we had 11 for most of the camp. We started by burning up the big piles of brash which Di had built up when hedgelaying at Dauntsey. From Sunday onwards most of the work was at Seven Locks, beginning with erecting a 3strand barbed wire fence on the offside between locks 2 and 1, and then on Monday with an augmented team we got down to some serious stump-pulling and burning below Lock I. There were also a number of fallen trees across the cut which were extracted, the top brash burnt, and the loggable bits piled separately, as we sell cordwood and logs to raise money for the canal. We carried on with this on Tuesday, but the day became Tirforing: the game you can play alone or (right) with your friends

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flexing when animals and vehicles go over it, The rest of the team pulled stumps, removed some dead elms and trinmed the hedge, and everyone worked so hard that we were able to finish early and go off for showers and swimming. Friday, Saturday and Sunday were close to freezing point all day, but dry and sunny, and with hard work and big bonfires we got through an amazing amount of clearance back at Seven Locks. We used both 1.6 and 3 tonne Tirfors, stumps flew out of the ground, trunks were cut into cordwood and stacked, and fallen tiees were pulled across the canal and similarly dealt with, and by Sunday afternoon 75 yards were cleared, and Lock 1 is in sight! It was a long camp - 9 days - but most of the tearn managed to find enough motivation, strength and energy to work right up to Sunday. We met up with Moose’s camp (from Steppingstone Lane) at the Peterborough Arms on the Tuesday evening for a highly competitive skittles match. Even though our rival camp had more people, and we had to play more individual goes to keep up, we managed to win two out of three rounds, and one of our two new friends, Mike Helas. won the “killer” round, and kindly donated his winnings to Foxham Branch funds. Moose worked his usual magic to make it a fun evening.

For the rest of the camp, even though a cinema run had been suggested, our camp preferred to chill out in the accommodation or try a few different pubs. Our jigsaw addicts managed to complete two 1,000 piece, one 1500 piece and two 500 piece puzzles. Di went down with a heavy cold the second day of the camp, but managed to soldier on with shopping, hedgelaying and feeding us so well that a couple of people said they might have to go on a diet after they got back home! Mina and her new friend Taz enjoyed themselves running round site each day and them crashing out or their beds in the evening. Despite the short days, we managed to achieve a great deal. We told the team about our plans for Lock 2, for which we hope to submit a planning application in January, and hope that they will be involved with those carrying out this interesting project. During the discussions, Alan Birchall from the Mon & Brec let slip that he was a model maker, and with a little gentle persuasion he agreed to make a model of the project from Roy Sutton’s drawings which will aid the planners. We shall also be able to use it as a fund-raising tool. I thought that it was a really good camp, and hope that everyone enjoyed themselves as much as I did. Rachael Banyard

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WRG at 40

The first in a series of articles to celebrate WRG’s 40th birthday by capturing the views of various people who have been involved

Forty views for forty years

40 Views for 40 Years Waterway Recovery Group is 40 years old this year. To mark this anniversary, Helen Gardner is conducting a series of interviews with 40 people who have been involved in WRG in various capacities over that period, to create a permanent record of the first four decades of the prganisation and a series of articles in Navvies. Over to Helen for the first instalment... Well if you’re going to bully people into talking into a blessed microphone for half an hour then who better to start with than the main beneficiary: Navvies Editor Martin Ludgate. He’s been editor (the longest running) since 1993 and he’s often seen armed with a trowel on camps and London WRG digs - that is, when he puts the camera down.

Q: How and when did you first get involved? A: When I got involved? That was 1982 –

George Eycott

Easter - I went on a London WRG dig, I’d been on a couple of digs before that, that was when I first got regularly involved. How? That goes back to when I was about 11 - my dad had a couple of books from the library about canals and they sounded really exciting, saving canals from dereliction. I nagged my parents to take us on a boat holiday which they eventually did – I read about boats and boat rallies and read about restoration and found out something called the Waterway Recovery Group. Then sometime about 10 years later I finally tracked them down and persuaded them to let me go on a weekend dig on the Basingstoke.

Q: Why did you keep coming back? A: Because it was fun – because they’re a good bunch of people to go out with at the weekend, for the social stuff, basically going to the pub and the like. Three or four years later a bunch of us from London WRG decided that we wanted to buy a leaky old narrow boat and restore it and been involved in that ever since.

Q: What was the nature of your involvement? A: Pretty much the same I do now: go out on a London WRG dig every third week or so. In those days it meant - well we used to joke when it said TBA in the dates list which stands for To Be Arranged it actually stood for The Basingstoke Again because that was where we spent a good 50% of our weekends. We basically demolished lock chambers from what I remember. We used to spend the whole weekend standing on a ledge about a foot wide cutting the face off a lock wall with a Kango hammer and go home at the end of the weekend shaking like a leaf. We did do a lot of that: they didn’t trust us with any brick laying; they had their own team of skilled bricklayers for that – we did coping stones and we did demolition and we did backfilling with concrete. Mike Fellows was the work party organiser for the Surrey and Hants Canal Society and an excellent guy – taught me to drive dumpers among other things. We never ran short of work, always had materials and always had kit that worked, partly it was the counties funding it, partly it was having a good canal society and partly from having an excellent local work party organiser. When that all came to an end in 1989 or so, because we’d finished all the locks on the Basingstoke we started working on other projects more.

Q: You started off with London WRG - when was London WRG formed? A: That’s a bit of a difficult one – I think sometime in the early 1960s the London and Home Counties

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Branch of the Inland Waterways Assocation formed a working party group and sometime in the 1970s after WRG had been set up as a national organisation that group chose to become the London regional group of Waterway Recovery Group – so either sometime in the early 60s or sometime in mid 70s, take your pick.

Q: So what are you most proud of about your involvement with WRG? A: I guess it’s got to be to do with Navvies – I think actually managing for 16 years to keep the readers informed and entertained is something that I’m pretty proud of.

Q: How did you end up becoming editor of Navvies? A: The then editor Alan Jervis collared me on a dig on the Montgomery Canal in about 1993 I think it was and said “I need to ask you a question, um, how much have you had to drink?”, I said “oh, just a couple of pints” he said “oh, I’ll ask you a bit later shall I?”. And I thought “hmm, I wonder what he’s going to ask me, I think I know...” and sure enough it was “do you want to take over as editor of Navvies?”

Q: A: Q: A:

What’s the best bit about being editor of Navvies? The feeling of satisfaction when you finally get rid of an issue – I think.

And what’s the most frustrating thing? Waiting for the chairman to write his piece. No, seriously, the most frustrating thing is if people say they’ll send stuff and they don’t. By the way, if you see any issue with a lot of photos in it then that’s because I found I had one page extra and needed to add another three.

Q: What’s the funniest thing you’ve ever been sent - is there anything that’s made you laugh out loud? A: There’s lots of things that have made me laugh out loud. The sheer inventiveness of some of the people sending in canal camp reports. The ‘Dear Deidre’ column at the moment. There is something else that I didn’t print that was very amusing because it was a letter written in a very odd way on a piece of paper and I finally realised that the reason that it had been written in that very odd way was because when you read down the page, down the letters, it spelled a very rude phrase often used by Mick Beattie a few years ago. Q: Where do you see the future of Navvies? A: People have been predicting the end of magazines ever since... ooh for decades now, and that applies to the day job at Canal Boat magazine as well but people still seem to like reading things on real paper. I see the future of Navvies pretty much like the present of Navvies, carry on entertaining people, informing them, amusing them, occasionally stimulating them to a bit of thought - and putting the message over about waterway restoration.

Q: What would you say WRG’s greatest achievement was? A: Since I’ve been involved I think the Over Basin project – managing to pick that one up, working with the Hereford and Gloucester Canal Trust (we can’t take all the credit for it – that wouldn’t be fair) and actually taking something that was never ever going to happen on time and turning it around and pulling out all the stops – that is what I think WRG is good at, when we’re really up against it – throwing everything into it and getting the thing done on time and in fact with a week or two to spare I think.

Q: Who has inspired you within WRG? A: I have to mention the late great David Martin Ludgate

Hutchings - although he wasn’t actually in WRG. As a work party organiser he was once quoted as saying ‘volunteers should be sent home on their knees’; he did work us hard. We didn’t do any silly hours, mind: we knocked off at 4 in the afternoon Over Basin incapable of doing any more work. In fact he gave us, and this was a long time ago, he gave us five pounds and said go and spend that in the pub, we couldn’t spend it all because we were so knackered. A great man, he masterminded the Stratford restoration, the Upper Avon restoration and if he’d been given the chance he’d have done the Higher Avon all the way through from Stratford to Warwick as well.

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Q: What is your classic ‘do you remember the time when...’ story? A: In the days when we used to go to the pub at lunch time, we were working on the Chesterfield and all piled in the van, probably more of us than seats in those days as well, headed off to a pub, had our pie and chips or whatever and a couple of pints. Piled in the van, went back to site, failing to notice that we’d actually left one volunteer in the pub, this was Allan, we’d not only failed to notice that he was in the Gents at the time, we also failed to notice when we got back to site we didn’t have him, and we also failed to notice him walking all the way back and walking back into site and starting work again with us. It wasn’t until later that he told us what happened.

Q: What’s the most useful skill you’ve learnt and who did you learn it from? A: Probably brick laying actually and I learned it from John Park – it was a real busman’s holiday for him – if I remember rightly he learned bricklaying as a trainee on the Basingstoke restoration, then became a fulltime professional bricklayer and spent his weekends training volunteers to lay bricks. He taught me at Willmoorway Lock, in fact he taught rather a lot of people, someone once described Willmoorway Lock chamber walls as “a series of learning curves”.

Q: What would you say has changed for canal restoration – for better and worse? A: The sheer scale of it – we’re now working on projects that people wouldn’t have taken seriously then, in fact they didn’t. I remember working on the Wey and Arun on our first dig there in ’83 or so and it was known as the Waste and Arid - it had no water in it and no hope as far as most people were concerned. In fact a few years earlier there were letters to the magazines including Navvies criticising the Wey and Arun Canal Trust for starting a restoration that was a complete waste of time. That has gone from being the ultimate no-hoper to being a canal that will reopen – it’s only a case of ‘when’ rather than ‘if’. The other side of that is despite the fact that we’ve moved on from clearing lock chambers by hand using wheel barrows to possibly constructing road bridges, at the same time that the volunteers have moved on to much more advanced projects, the difficulty of the task has moved on at an even greater rate. Most of the canals we were working on in the 70s and early 80s had never actually officially been closed; they’d been allowed to fall derelict. It meant they hadn’t ever actually been blocked: there weren’t road bridges blocking them; there weren’t railway lines across them. Bridges were still there. You needed to make the thing waterproof, restore the locks, put the gates in – it was all stuff that could ultimately be done by volunteers even if it would take a long time. Now when you look at something like the Wilts and Berks there are things like Swindon – the route through Swindon has been completely lost. We will be contributing to projects where the main work will be done by contractors paid for by local authorities and the like.

Q: Where do you see WRG’s future? A: I don’t know - I think it might well be tied up with whatever happens with British Waterways’ future. I know a lot’s been talked about British Waterways getting involved with volunteers, and they talk the talk – but they don’t always walk the walk. But they’ve been saying so much about it recently and how they’re changing to a different type of organisation that involves more working with volunteers, and we may or may not be tied up with that. Other than that we carry on doing what we’re doing and we keep on doing it better – because I think we do, compared with what we did 25 years ago. The chance of taking on jobs that we would never have thought of back then, like I believe down on the Wilts and Berks there’s a suggestion that we might end up with volunteers building a road bridge. Now to an interview with John Foley: he rarely ventures from the folds of North-West but I managed to grab him after a paper chase (yes - I waited until the chips were eaten). John’s one of those people who doesn’t really talk about himself so I very much appreciate him agreeing to be interviewed – I suspect it was one of the slightly more painful points in his life! John is one of the main cogs behind the North-West book stand and is usually on each paper chase and NW dig.

Q: So when did you first get involved with canal restoration?

A: Well I think it was going to the Stratford Canal on the original restoration sometime in the early 60s. That was going down for a week – they had a barrack hut at the Lapworth Yard with very primitive facilities.

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Q: Who was around then? A: Well it was David Hutchings who was the National Trust Manager there and any odd bods that he could get hold of including prisoners, army, workers, all sorts of people; people like me who would go and spend a week’s holiday there.

Q: What made you do it in the first place? A: An interest in canals; going back to the beginning, at the age of ten I had a copy of Arthur Ransom’s Coot Club thrust into my hand at school and I got the bug for waterways and sailing and talked my parents into Broads holidays. I read all the books I could on the Broads and then I couldn’t find any more so I had to read something about canals. Then somebody told me about the IWA and I must have joined somehow. At about the time the Stratford was reopened the campaign started for the restoration of the Peak Forest Canal based on the problems with Marple Locks and Marple Aqueduct, so I joined the Peak Forest. The Peak Forest Canal Society was set up as a result of frost damage a year or two earlier to Marple Aqueduct. The Marple Aqueduct was saved by local authority intervention and by the time that was fixed the locks were impassable and British Waterways were quite keen on closing the canal to navigation.

Q: You were involved with the restoration of the locks? A: Yes, in the fairly early stages, some lock clearance, vegetation cut back, helping Dr Boucher – some people may remember. He lived alongside the locks and was a highly skilled engineer and woodworker who was able to fashion replacement balance beams and paddle gear using – it felt like he could do anything using a saw and an adze – and there’s not many people who can do anything with an adze. We’d assist him with that and some other fairly non-skilled things as part of the restoration campaign.

Q: And obviously the Peak Forest is restored now A: Yes. The Ashton of course was worse. Some people became more involved with the Ashton running the boats on the Ashton, the boat yard down there near Guide Bridge is still a going concern and run by people who were involved back in the 60s.

Q: So this is back in the 60s and before WRG as an organisation formally existed? A: Yes, our connection with it started when I saw a mention (in an IWA bulletin) of Navvies Notebook being available from Graham Palmer. I wrote and subscribed and eventually we got into correspondence and phone calls about possible work up here. The London group eventually came up for a weekend and the connection grew up from that.

Q: Did you know Graham Palmer? A: Yes – quite a lot of connection with WRG while I was still working party organiser. He was going to do the official photographs at my wedding and he took a lot of photographs, we sent back the ones we wanted copies of but he lost them! All we ended up with was the odd ones and outtakes – I didn’t hold it against him. I always got on very well with him, I know some people would have found him very difficult to deal with. The work we organised together - it all went as smoothly as possible.

Q: So moving on - What happened with your involvement with WRG after that? A: I rather dropped out with marriage and young children – I’d always carried on reading Navvies and used to go to occasional local events. I decided I’d got a lot of waste paper in my garage and I had a word with Mac at one of these events and arranged to drop some of the stuff off and it just grew again from there.

books - how did that start? A: It [WRG NW] started books and found that it was a good seller on the stall. First time I’d looked at the stall in its newer form with books on I thought some of these are perhaps too tatty to be saleable and some of them might fetch a bit more money than the 20 or 30p being charged at the time so I started tidying up. Then I found that a second hand book shop had opened in my local village, went

Martin Ludgate

Q: What year was it that you came back? A: I think it was 83 or 84. Q: The connection with the

Fine selection of books on the NW stall a few years ago

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and saw the feller and said “would you be interested in seeing some books that we have from time to time?”; and he said “yes” and it just built up from there.

Q: What would you say WRG was really good at and really bad at? A: Stepping in and doing things to back up the start of canal restorations. Helping new societies, helping societies that never really got underway very well and also in the more technical side; getting involved in quite substantial projects which involve a lot of engineering, bricklaying, woodwork – you know fairly technical stuff. It’s flexible enough to fit in right from the most basic site clearance through to small scale rebuilding of bridges and locks. And bad at? Perhaps presentation - I had a look at the WRG website – perhaps it’s only presented at the sort of people who are first timers on canal camps – it’s fine to have that sort of thing but I don’t think there’s a lot else that we’re offering as information.

Q: What skill have you learnt? A: Something that surprised me was taking on dealing with books – not deliberately but it just developed that way. I’d never seen myself as a salesman but I’ve probably been in contact with 30 or 40 book dealers over the time. Starting off going into a bookshop or ringing somebody up and saying “hello can I sell you some second hand books?” I suppose it’s a skill in a way – if I’d been better at it I might have sold a lot more!

Q: Who’s inspired you? A: I suppose I’d have to go back to David Hutchings, really, you don’t get many personalities like that over the years. The impossibility of putting him off something that he’d set his mind on. Whether it was coping with the problems of getting rid of the dredgings on the Stratford Canal; or the exploits involved in rebuilding the locks down into Stratford when he found that they were about 6 inches narrower than anybody thought; rebuilding bridges on the Avon; just being able to plan and do things right and do them right away. We can’t always do it quite like that now. Present day: Mr Mac, for longevity I suppose – keeping at it and always trying to find another way out of a difficulty - perseverance.

Q: Do you have any stories? A: Stories just arise out of conversation, I suppose one example of that is this last weekend somebody was around on our Cromford weekend, Nick Bullimore, and I think there was a bit of mud on the Sunday. Thoughts went back to him being pulled out of his wellies in the mud at Over and the fact that his wellies were down there somewhere in the foundations of the walls at Over for future archaeologists to discover.

Q: Where do you see the future of WRG? A: I don’t know – with the financial problems that are looming for BW and the Environment Agency – there may be things that we’ve got to do, either in campaigning over the next few years or actually funding. I hate the thought of spending our money on things that should be secure by now but there might have to be some hard thinking about what we do with our resources both for existing waterways and restorations. The idea of spending money on existing waterways is something I really hate to think of but maybe we have to do more in campaigning. I really don’t want to be collecting waste paper to fund routine canal maintenance which is what it would come down to – I know we couldn’t.

Q: Why do you keep coming back? A: Well what else would I do with me time? People sometimes ask me “have you got a boat?” – no “have you never wanted to have a boat?” – not really, I’ve got a house and a garden to neglect. Well if I wasn’t going away on weekends I wouldn’t be able to neglect the house and garden – I’d be doing things there and I’d rather be doing this. Over the forthcoming issues I shall probably experiment with the style of the write up so if you’d prefer to see it done differently then just let me know (and if anyone fancies writing up an interview then all you need is some form of media player (Windows will do it) and I can send you the electronic file). Whilst the write ups are a transcription of the interview, limitations on space mean I have only included what I judged to be most interesting or relevant – I may also change the order of questions and answers if it flows better. I’m looking at making the complete interviews available electronically - more on that next time. Helen Gardner PS my version of Word autochanges wellies to willies – glad I spotted that

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“You could hear the rats running around in the roof all night then screaming as they got caught in a trap”

The Survey

Best and worst accommodation

What’s your most and least favourite accommodation? Dante describes Hell as an enormous conical pit leading down to the centre of the Earth. Within the pit are nine circles of decreasing size, where those condemned to Hell are punished. Beyond the seventh circle, past the woods where spendthrifts are pursued through the trees by harpies, and across the desert of unbearable heat where fire rains from the sky, lies Tring Scout Hut. WRG’s latest survey spared no details of the horror that awaits you there: ‘disgustingly dirty and always cold’; ‘Cold lino floor and the kitchen smells like mice’; ‘the loos leak’ were some complaints. There were grumbles that it ‘requires a supernatural feat of trailer reversing’ in a car park described as ‘too small to be useful’. One person concludes bitterly: ‘Anyone who has not listed this as the worst accomm has clearly never been here’. Although Tring received by far the most votes, some other places nominated as leastpopular accommodation were Droitwich Boxing club, St Grot’s Stratford and Woodlands Social Club & Village Hall, Hungerford. Their crimes included: ‘ice on the inside’, an entire camp being poisoned by an illegal water supply, and the usual complaints about no hot water or heating. One person put in an open nomination for ‘any accommodation where the toilet bowl and the cooker are in the same room...’ and another person recounted how at one place ‘you would hear the rats running around all night in the roof space then screaming as they got caught in a rat trap’. The word-cloud (right) illustrates nicely the proportion of different words people used when they commented on their least favourite accommodation. And the favourite? Places with showers or bunk beds proved popular in nominations for best accommodation. The divine Haybay Barge on the Chelmer and Blackwater received the most votes (‘great views, showers, own bunk, barbecue and you can swim around it!’). Runners up included Selsey Scout Hut (‘Fantastic views!’), Blists Hill for the bunk beds, and Robert Monk hall at Foxton for the excellent kitchen. Proximity to a source of alcohol was a major motivating factor for many of those voting, and Wath Rugby Club received a mention because the locals opened the bar and left an honesty box for volunteers. Next survey: What’s the worst thing you’ve left behind when you’ve gone digging? Vote online at http://tiny.cc/WRGdisaster Editor’s note: Since compiling this survey we’ve heard that Tring Scout Hut has received a grant for improvements including showers. Sadly we’ve also heard that planning permission is conditional on no more than two visiting groups using it per year. You win some, you lose some...

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Navvies diary Your guide to all the forthcoming work parties Feb 27/28

London WRG

Basingstoke Canal

Feb 27 Sat


Dorset & Somerset Canal: Guided tour of Fussells Boat Lift excavated r Private land, so bookings only. No casual visitors at any time. (This is s

Mar 1 Mon


Press date for issue 240

Mar 6/7

Essex WRG

Wilts & Berks Canal

Mar 6 Sat


Barn Dance: Benson Village Hall. Possibly publicity workshop and KESCRG

Mar 13/14


Basingstoke Canal

Mar 14 Sun EAWA/NWDCT North Walsham & Dilham Canal: Briggate Mar 20/21


Hollinwood Canal

Mar 20/21


Hereford & Gloucester Canal: Llanthony Lock

Mar 21 Sun WRG

Committee & Board Meetings

Mar 27/28

London WRG

Thames & Severn Canal: Eisey Lock. Dig Deep project

Mar 27/28


Basingstoke Canal

Mar 27 Sat


‘Paper Chase’ waste paper collection

Mar 27-Apr 5 Camp 201002: Easter Camp: Wilts & Berks Canal: Steppingstones Lane Bridge. Note date changed from Apr 2-10. Cost £72 Mar 28 Sun EAWA/NWDCT North Walsham & Dilham Canal: Briggate Apr 10/11


Thames & Severn Canal: Eisey Lock. Dig Deep project

Apr 10/11

Essex WRG

Lichfield & Hatherton Canals

Apr 11 Sun EAWA/NWDCT North Walsham & Dilham Canal: Honing Lock Apr 17/18

London WRG

B.C.N. Cleanup: NOTE date changed from Mar 21/22. Centrally booked

Apr 17/18


Lichfield Canal (provisional)

Apr 17/18


Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation: To be confirmed.

Apr 25 Sun EAWA/NWDCT North Walsham & Dilham Canal: Honing / Staithe Cut Apr 29-May 4 IWA/WRG

Canalway Cavalcade at Little Venice: Site Services Camp

May 1/2/3


Mon & Brec Canal: Joint dig with Essex & wrgSW. Preparing for Whit T

May 1/2/3

Essex WRG

Mon & Brec Canal: 3-day weekend with WRG NW.

May 1/2/3


Canalway Cavalcade, Little Venice: BITM Sales Stall

May 8 Sat


‘Paper Chase’ waste paper collection

May 14/15/16 wrgBITM

Rickmansworth Festival: Site Services & sales stand. Open to public on

May 15/16

London WRG

To be arranged

May 15/16


Thames & Severn Canal: Eisey Lock. Dig Deep project

May 22 Sat


Leaders Training Day: for canal camp and work party leaders

May 23 Sun WRG

page 24

Committee and board meetings

Canal Camps cost £56 per week unless otherwise stated. Bookings for WRG Canal Camps (those identified by a camp number e.g. 'Camp 201002') should go to WRG Canal Camps, Island House, Moor Road, Chesham HP5 1WA. Tel: 01494 783453. Email: enquiries@wrg.org.uk

emains. shooting country.)

Tim Lewis



Derrick Hunt



Martin Ludgate



John Gale



G AGM beforehand.


Trailboat Rally

Sat & Sun

barndance@kescrg.org.uk Eddie Jones



David Revill



David McCarthy



Dave Wedd



Mike Palmer



Tim Lewis



Graham Hawkes



David McCarthy

0161-740-2179 01494-783453


David Revill



Eddie Jones



John Gale



David Revill



Tim Lewis



David McCarthy



Dave Wedd



David Revill



Dave ‘Moose’ Hearndern 07961-922153


David McCarthy



John Gale



Dave Wedd



David McCarthy


Dave Wedd



Tim Lewis



Graham Hawkes



Mike Palmer



Mike Palmer



page 25

Navvies diary Canal societies’ regular working parties Amendments to Dave Wedd (see previous page) Once per month: pls check 2nd Sunday & alternate Thurs Anytime inc. weekdays Every Sunday Every Tue & Wed Every Saturday 2nd & last Sunday of month 4th Sunday of month Second Sun of month 2nd weekend of month 2nd Sat of month Tuesdays Weekends Wednesdays Weekends Every Sunday if required 2nd Sunday of month 1st, 2nd, 4th Sun + 3rd Sat 3rd Sunday of month 2nd & 4th Sundays 2nd & last Sundays Every Wed and 1st Sat 2nd Sunday of month 1st Sunday of month Most weekends Last weekend of month 2nd Sunday of month 1st weekend of month Every Tuesday morning Every Sunday & Thurs Mondays (2 per month) Wednesdays Wednesdays Wednesdays Thursdays Various dates 1st w/e (Fri-Tue or Fri-Wed) 2nd Thursday of month Every weekend


page 26

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

BCN waterways Buckingham area Aqueduct section Various sites Chelmer & Blackwater Droitwich Canal N Walsham & Dilham Langley Mill Foxton Inclined Plane Grantham Canal Nynehead Lift Oxenhall Over Wharf House Over Wharf House Hereford Aylestone Bugsworth Basin Lancaster N. Reaches Lichfield Hatherton N Walsham Canal Pocklington Canal Stowmarket Navigtn. Sankey Canal Combe Hay Locks Basingstoke Stover Canal Sleaford Navigation Newhouse Lock Thames & Medway C varied construction tidying road crossings Tickner's Heath Depot maintenance work Loxwood Link Winston Harwood Grp Hedgelaying (Oct-Mar) Drayton Beauchamp Drayton Beauchamp Wilts & Berks Canal


Mobile groups' socials (please phone to confirm)

Birmingham Canal Navigations Soc. Buckingham Canal Society Bude Canal Trust Chesterfield Canal Trust Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation 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


Mike Rolfe Athina Beckett Gerald Fry Mick Hodgetts John Gale Jon Axe David Revill Michael Golds Mike Beech Colin Bryan Denis Dodd Brian Fox Maggie Jones Wilf Jones Martin Danks Ian Edgar Paul Shaw Sue Williams Denis Cooper David Revill Paul Waddington Colin Turner Colin Greenall Bob Parnell Peter Redway George Whitehead Mel Sowerby Mike Friend Brian Macnish Eric Walker John Empringham John Smith Peter Jackman Peter Wilding Tony Clear Keith Nichols Roger Leishman Pete Bowers Rachael Banyard

07763-171735 01908-661217 01288-353273 01246-620695 01376-334896 0121-608 0296 01603-738648 0115-932-8042 0116-279-2657 0115-989-2248 01823-661653 01432 358628 01452 618010 01452 413888 01432 344488 01663-732493 01524-35685 01543-671427 01543-374370 01603-738648 01757-638027 01473-730586 01744-731746 01225-428055 01483-721710 01626-775498 01522-856810 01948-880723 01732-823725 023-9246-3025 01483-562657 01903-235790 01483-772132 01483-422519 01903-774301 01403-753882 01442-874536 01255-504540 01249-892289

Lancaster Canal Trust Lichfield & Hatherton Canals Rest'n Trust Newbury Working Party Group North Walsham & Dilham Canal Trust Pocklington Canal Amenity Society River Gipping Trust Sankey Canal Restoration Society Somersetshire Coal Canal Society Surrey & Hants Canal Society Stover 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


A new idea for canoefriendly slipways, and as response on whether BW should be stripped and flogged...

to the editor Slipway wall

This way down

Martin Danks

Slipway wall

Dear Martin Top of slipway Slipways for all Several canal restoration schemes have included slipways for trailboats, partly in an attempt to get usage by as many boats as Proposed ‘Slot’ possible as early as possible. These are in slipway wall typically wide enough for a vehicle or boat to accommodate trailer, a wall on each side running into the canoes water with a slope between. Somebody wanting to launch a canoe or kayak wants to place the boat parallel to the waterline and be able to step in from dry land. Unfortunately, the parallel walls are often too close together to allow this to happen and too high for easy exit. Building a slot in one wall with its toe up to 6m from the opposite wall at the waterline would make life easier for canoeists wishing to use the canal. Alternatively, a ledge along one wall Canal channel above water level as a walkway would also allow the luxury of dry feet. Stuart Fisher Stuart Fisher’s propsoed slipway modification Paddlers International and (below) new slipway at Aylestone, H&G Dear Martin I would like to object (in jest) to the heading of your Editorial in Navvies i.e. “Should BW be stripped and flogged?” As my initials are BW, this caption caused great amusement to my family. On a more serious note, I am impressed that WRG has not only survived 40 years but has grown dramatically and is obviously well organised. I must have joined WRG in 1974 and I enjoyed working at three Work Camps in the ‘70’s before becoming a passive member. In my defence I am very active, on behalf of the IWA, campaigning for slipways on my local rivers in Sussex. Keep up the good work. Brendan Whelan ( the other BW ) Secretary, Inland Waterways Association Solent and Arun Branch

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The Academy Awards acceptance speeches on behalf of Baylham Lock... and Westons’ cider!

to the editor

Gordon Brown

Dear Martin What can I say? I think the tried and tested acceptance speech routine as used at the Oscar ceremonies would be the way forward. Now which Hollywood star to emulate - Greer Garson with the longest at 7 minutes; Laurence Olivier who was clearly ‘tired and emotional’; James Cameron for / Titanic/ ‘I am the king of the world’? What about all those nonentities who thanked their agent, cousin, make-up man, the Maharishi or ‘everybody I ever met in my entire life’? Probably the best thing is to thank all the people who voted for our site at Baylham as their favourite volunteer site. Having been on other WRG camps I think your assessment is right - it’s the locals that make the difference. I hasten to add, that doesn’t include me - I’m the original grumpy old man - but to name just a few it’s Colin, Chard, Don, the Johns, Peter and all the others who come Most popular site: Baylham Lock along every week, not just for the camp. But you also need good camp leaders and a group of WRG’ies who give of their best and we always get them. We haven’t got a camp next year but I know when the call goes out we’ll get a full house. Once again, thank you. Spencer Greystrong Treasurer, River Gipping Trust Have you voted in our latest survey yet - best accommodation? http://tinyurl.com/WRGaccomm Dear Martin, In Navvies 236 you had the survey “Who’s your WRG hero”, and at the bottom you say that Westons cider is always seen at every camp. This interested me because my father’s sister married one of the Weston brothers a long time ago - she died in 1983 aged 94. In the 1950s I used to spend several weeks of my summer holidays staying with them, working on the farm or in the cider works. In those days they only employed 30-40 people, but when I was there in the spring of 2004 they had expanded so much they then employed 100 people. I was there again in October to find that they must have spent £millions as there were so many new buildings, and 45 new storage tanks each holding 30,000 gallons, and now employ 150 people, in a small village in the middle on nowhere. They say business is booming, so part of this will be down to WRG. The M.D. is the great daughter of the founder Henry Weston, I have posted a copy of the survey to her. Regards, John Holloway, Chinnor

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Our regular roundup of progress on restoration projects around the country begins in Lincolnshire...

Progress Sleaford and H&G

Alastair, Geoff and myself. Indian birthday meal at the Glass Tandoor with Jude the Bottom Lock: The final work party to com- silver fox. Weather poor. plete the Bottom Lock project took place in October: laid the blue single-bullNovember when the quadrants for the botnosed coping bricks. Martin, John and tom gates were finished off. Charlie. Fish ’n’ chips from “Plaice 61” in Hunderton. Weather worse. Head of Navigation Project: The final November: poured the concrete ramp phase of the new lift bridge in Sleaford will and filled sand bags Martin, John, George, be completed in early January when the Charlie Forbes, Fred and Lorraine and even hydraulic operating gear is fitted. with help from the mixer lorry driver, Tim. Tenders for the work on the new slipReturn visit to “Plaice 61”. Could the weather way and winding hole have been sent out be even worse? and should be returned to the Trust before It poured during the pour but we perthe end of the year. It is anticipated that the severed and produced a very nicely finished work will be completed in time for a grand slipway ramp – rough for traction, and at the opening of the new Head of Navigation over edges, a very fetching dimple pattern from the Easter weekend. high spec rain drops… Steve Hayes It does look loverly and thank you so much for the volunteers who came. There are more tasks for the cacals to complete as well as the landscaping and bank removal scheduled for a WRG w/end in early Feb and in the Spring when the water levels and weather should be better. Martin Danks

Sleaford Navigation

New gate quadrants, Lower Lock, Sleaford

Herefordshire & Gloucestershire More Marks on the Park: As camps 13 and 16 finished there were offers of weekends’ work to complete the Aylestone Park slipway. So far we have had three with wrg volunteers from the camps staying at chateau Danks and locals made lots of progress: September: blinded the ramp, re-laid the kerb stones. In attendance: Martin T, John Hawkins, George Rogers, and locals

The new Aylestone slipway takes shape

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Progress Restoring wooden boats Wooden Canal Boat Society

Meanwhile up in the north west, the Wooden Canal Boat Society are recycling a Bolinder engine...

discontinue the Tuesday flea market stall. Recycling trips for the first half of 2010 will be:

A Bolinder engine for narrow boat Forget me not has arrived from Ireland. After a couple of moves this has now been Sundays, Meet at Portland Basin, Portland put in a workshop in Stalybridge to await the St South, Ashton under Lyne Ol6 7SX at attention of Bolinder experts. Though it was 9.30 AM on January 3rd, February 7th, in running order when it came out of its March 7th , 11th April, 9th May, 6th June. Grand Canal barge, it does seem to need a lot of fettling. In particular it will need a new Monday Evenings, meet at Portland Basin reversing mechanism as the original one was at 6Pm on 4th January, 1st February, 1st dismantled long ago. March, 12th April, 10th May , 7th June. Meanwhile Forget me not is unpowered and Sunday recycling trips involve an imTo contact the Wooden Canal Boat Society pressive train of boats with Southam towing ring 0161 330 8422 or 07931 952 037, both Forget me not and Lilith. email us at wcbs@care2.com or write to 173, Slipway beams have now arrived at our Stamford St, Ashton under Lyne OL6 7PS. Heritage Boatyard by Huddersfield Canal with You can look at the website at a view to slipping the first boat about Easter. wcbs.org.uk or the Boatman blog ashtonboatman.blog.uk Work recently has concentrated on building a timber shelter to get all the wood out of the weather and properly stacked. Our charity shop has been developing nicely and some funding for retail training has allowed us to employ a part time shop co-ordinator and a part time training coordinator. Getting enough reliable shop volunteers is always a struggle though. Due to a 600% increase in charges we The Bolinder engine arrives from Ireland have decided to




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LHCRT are at work on Tamworth Road Locks and elsewhere: “There will be plenty of work for visiting groups...” Lichfield and Hatherton canals

Lichfield & Hatherton possible lay-outs for a mooring basin to move boats off the section of the main line of the Lichfield Canal to Cappers Bridge where they currently moor. There are flood plain issues to be explored fully. Patience with these issues is at a premium. In Lichfield itself we are monitoring carefully any plans to extend the bypass which will be associated with the reactivation of development plans from Persimmon and others. We are also hoping to progress Phase 1 of the revised Hatherton Route which could take us cross-country to Churchbridge which is currently a more likely way for us to reach Cannock than from the west. The Highways Agency is now installing the electronics for hard-shoulder running through the congested area rather than widening the motorway (which might have presented an opportunity for reistating the canal crossing). Behind the Roman Way BW has been felling trees and is about to dredge its feeder section through much of the part which our work parties maintain. We are assured that spoil will not be placed on the footpath as happened on the previous occasion. It is essential that the Trust maintains its “two canals” strategy.


The main practical focus is at Tamworth Road on the Lichfield Canal where our team, led by Brian Davis, is making excellent progress with the bywash at Lock 25. It should be complete by the early spring. We are discussing how we can introduce water either cosmetically or as part of a larger rewatering scheme through Pound 26 and possibly through the lock as well. This will involve discussion with all the statutory bodies and, as this includes the Environment Agency, the process could be long and convoluted. However, relationships with Lichfield District and City Councils continue to strengthen and improve. Although the Atkins Report envisages restoration in five stages from Huddlesford Junction (where our canal meets the Coventry Canal) we have committed so much time, effort and money to Tamworth Road we must press ahead. Progress elsewhere is also subject to consultation and fund-raising. There will be plenty of work for visiting groups. At Huddlesford we are continuing with fruitful discussions with Lichfield Cruising Club where a joint survey party is looking at


Lichfield Canal: Lock 25 bywash takes shape

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Progress Thames & Medway... Thames & Medway Canal

Photos by TMCA

On 13 October a lorryload of shingle was tipped across the Mark Lane end of the canal to make a safe crossing place so that the depth of the puddle clay could be inspected on the opposite side of the canal – it passed the inspection. A couple of days later T&M Canal Association members watched as two small holes were dug in the ground beyond the road which runs across the Gravesend canal basin. With extreme care the digger operator uncovered the coping stones at the far end of the lock which had been under an office building for many years. The onlook-

Down in Kent, things are happening on a little-known waterway that used to run from Gravesend to Strood ers cheered this result of much work planning and poring over maps. One of the stones had been quite badly damaged by some earlier pipe-laying operation. All this activity would prepare the Thames and Medway Canal for a major dredging operation and the installation of a pump to maintain the water level in the canal for the Great Expectations Project (Riverside Leisure Area and Thames and Medway Canal Project). In March Gravesham Borough Council received funding to take forward a major regeneration initiative to create a sequence of waterfront spaces leading from the town centre to the Thames marshes, reconnecting Gravesend with its rural hinterland and heritage, forming a gateway landscape to the new RSPB reserve at Cliffe Pools and a high quality setting for regeneration of the canal basin and East Gravesend. Angela Acott

Checking levels at the swingbridge near Eastcourt Marshes and (inset) a coping stone is disinterred

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Finally, WAT are fighting the weather as they try to complete relining of the Stage 1 section and prepare for Stage 2... Wendover Arm

Progres ...and Wendover Arm The next step will be to continue with Stage 2 pipe capping (covering the pipe that was laid in the canal bed to carry the water supply feed after the canal had run dry) and use the spoil to fill the banks above the coir rolls in Stage 1. When the bank filling is completed, spoil from Stage 2 will be used to fill the bed of the canal over the Bentomat and form the bund at the end of Stage 1. The ‘sleeping policemen’ every 20 metres will be formed from surplus ready-mix concrete used for pipe capping. Once the weather has improved in the Spring it is the intention to excavate ready for constructing the Stage 2 mooring wall on the towpath side and make every effort to complete the wall before next winter to avoid possible deterioration of the bank behind the wall before backfilling. Hopefully the weekday working parties will expedite this work. For more information see the Trust’s website http://wendovercanal.org.uk/ Roger Leishman

December Working Party: The November rains dashed hopes of continuing with the lining of Stage 1 of the canal – the wettest November ever according to records. At least it demonstrated that the lining already completed holds water! Thankfully the mini-bund at the end of the completed lining kept most of the water at bay from the unfinished length of Stage 1; on the Thursday before the working party, we pumped out the 2" that had accumulated. Although the weather hindered our objective of finishing Stage 1 as soon as possible we completed valuable work. Bank profiling of Stage 1 is now 100% complete and, as soon as weather permits, Bentomat lining and blocking of both banks will be completed. Great progress in removing scrub and large and small stumps from the offside bank of Stage 2 was made as well as tipping spoil on the offside bank. Looking Ahead: Once the weather is suitable it is intended to line and block the rest of Stage 1 by having a small team at Little Tring feeding the rest of the volunteers at Drayton Beauchamp with materials and doing nothing else. Hopefully a hydraulic grab will make the loading of concrete blocks a less laborious job. Given a fair wind, hopefully by March, it should be possible to This old photo unearthed by Wendover Arm Trust seems to show the complete this junction with the main line at Bulbourne being lined with bitumen felt lining in one sealed with hot irons - an earlier equivalent of Bentomat lining? working party.

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Bill Nicholson brings us up to date on Dig Deep, a scheme to co-ordinate work on projects in the south of England

The Dig Deep Initiative

Bill Nicholson

Martin Ludgate

funded and is a site that is dedicated to work by visiting groups. Second, no other canal society has come up with a project of a similar magnitude. That’s not to say we aren’t working anywhere else of which more later. So this year we have planned a major commitment to Eisey. There will be no fewer than three weeks of summer camp and 11 weekend digs. The camps will aim to start and finish rebricking the towpath side wall (all 90 feet of it) whilst the weekend work leading up to them will concenEisey Lock: London WRG finish bricklaying the first wall... trate on dismantling loose brickwork and Dig Deep Report cleaning off the mortar The Dig Deep initiative is a scheme to coso that the new wall can ordinate work by several mobile working be toothed in. There’s party groups based mainly in the south of no large slabs of conEngland. The way it works is that particular crete involved here as at restoration jobs are adopted as Dig Deep Lock 4 at Seven Locks projects, committing the groups to giving a (Wilts & Berks) or certain amount of support to these projects Loxwood on the Wey & over a period of time, and thereby making it Arun. We also hope to ...then NWPG add easier for the local canal societies which are complete the rebuild of leading these projects to commit to the the top cill as this pronecessary funding, materials and equipment vides the access for materials onto the scafto finish the job within a reasonable timescale. folding for the bricklayers. The groups currently involved in Dig Deep Dig Deep has been working at Eisey are London WRG, WRG BITM, KESCRG and since February 2008. During that time we NWPG. have re-built the off–side chamber wall to Our current Dig Deep programme is within coping stone level (although 1½ more centred on one major project – the re-build brick courses are required). We have also reof Eisey Lock on the Thames & Severn built all four wing walls, installed lower end Canal. Why is this so? Well two reasons. stop planks and started the upper gate reFirst, it is a project that meets the key criteria cesses. The bow wall at the top end of the of a good Dig Deep Project in that it is fully lock is well advanced and will be completed

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Does your canal society have a suitable task that Dig Deep could adopt as one of its projects? If so, please get in touch.

The Dig Deep Initiative

Cotswold Canals Trust

as part of the cill re-build. This work has all expect very soon. This is all vital work in been done by the Dig Deep teams with ashelping to keep the canal open and useable sistance at the planning and site manageby boaters who these days do not expect to ment level from the ever patient and rehave to leap off their boats onto sloping sourceful Jon Pontefract. Jon is excellent as banks. Later in the year Dig Deep will be he allows us to use our experience and exhelping the Wey & Arun summer camp team pertise whilst ensuring that the standards in finishing work started last year on the required by Cotswolds Canals Trust are installation of a new culvert just below maintained. Southlands Lock. This will be constructing When will it be finished? The method of the headwalls and water control elements of re-using the old bricks as backing bricks and the culvert and once finished will enable the the 90 foot length of the locks on this part of canal to be re-watered. the canal (compared to We shall start thinking about projects the more common size for 2011 in early summer with a view to of just over 70ft) has making decisions by the end of September. It probably added about would be good to have one more site in six months to the usual addition to Eisey Lock where we can really 2½ years for a volunshow our mettle. If anyone has such a site teer lock re-build using and would like to discuss it with us first weekends and camps before making a commitment, please get in only. touch. Alan Cavender or myself (or your So if we finish the Editor?!) would be very pleased to hear from towpath chamber wall you. See Navvies Directory for details. and the cill this year, Bill Nicholson which will leave the lower flank and gate recess walls and work on the by-wash for 2011 and the job will be finished. After that – the coping stones... well there has been mention of Inglesham Lock... As mentioned earlier, Dig Deep has been and will be working on other sites. On the Basingstoke we have started the construction of a landing stage at the downstream end of Lock 4 at West Byfleet. We will also be rebuilding the by-wash at Lock 1 once the County Council have ...and now it’s time to start on the other wall given the go ahead which we

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WRG NW A year in the life

Just to prove that there’s life north of the Wilts & Berks, we catch up on WRG North West’s activities, ranging from Hollinwood to Lichfield and the Montgomery

February arrived, and so did the bad weather. Our dig on the 7/8th on the ChesterJanuary 2009 started off with our first field was cancelled at short notice due to Paperchase (waste paper collection) of the severe snow across the Peak District, which th year on the 10 January, followed by our many of us would have crossed to reach the first visit of the year to the Hollinwood Canal. hall. The fact we were down to just seven This was at a new location for us, carrying volunteers was beside the point. Two weeks out some scrub bashing on the Fairbottom later, and the Paperchase was undertaken in Branch below Croft End Farm. But this was quite pleasant weather. no ordinary scrub bashing, this was extreme March was to be a busy month for us. scrub bashing, as the majority of the trees The 7/8th was the first of two visits to were growing within the canal bed, but this Lichfield to work on the Tamworth Road site. was in water (or should I say, heavily silted Saturday (in the third change of plan) saw water, which meant deep mud). Needless to the majority of us progress the brickwork say, several of us got covered in lovely gluti- facing to the ‘Lego-brick’ wall below Lock 26, nous mud (some more than others, espeincluding a significant length of half-brick on cially Ju, who was taken home on the Sunedge forming the bottom course. Sunday day wrapped in bin bags!) as we cleared a started with a trial fitting of the pipes for stretch from the stop plank narrows, includLock 25 bywash, followed by final excavation ing pulling some stumps out with a Tirfor. of the foundations for the bywash outfall The following weekend a select group wall, after which we mixed and poured conof us carried out the long-delayed task of crete for the foundations, until we ran out of erecting a roof between the two containers at cement with a third still to pour! A shock for North Cheshire Cruising Club. Here we were this weekend was Ju – she returned to the ably directed by Steve Dent, a roofer by hall clean on both days! profession. The construction was solid The following weekend a select few of enough to withstand the severe storms that us assisted the Friends of the Cromford raged on the Saturday evening, despite only Canal in their first attempt at clearance of a one anchor point in place. section of the canal bed at Sawmills, near Ambergate, including operation of the chipper. At the end of the weekend, we had cleared about 75 yards of canal bed, and spread 20 tons of hardcore on the many wet spots along the towpath. The 21/22nd was our first visit to the Manchester Bolton & Bury Canal at Little Lever, revisiting the section between Nob End and Hall Lane on Saturday morning, before moving on beyond the breach to clear the towpath edge through to the former paper mill warehouse which sits astride the canal bed, a task we completed around lunchtime Sunday. The following weekend was WRG NW in winter: clearing trees at Hollinwood our third Paperchase, however a Photos by Mike Chase

WRG North West in 2009

page 36

WRG NW in spring: shuttering for Lichfield group of us hijacked GCW and travelled down to the BCN instead, and spent a pleasant weekend hauling various unmentionables out of the Tame Valley and Walsall Canals, and getting covered in black smelly gloop. April by comparison was a quiet month, with just our second visit to the Hollinwood on the 18/19th. On this occasion we concentrated on the section towards Crime Lake, initially having to retrieve no fewer than four large refrigerators from the canal, and then transport them round to the refuse compound by the visitor centre. Cameron also went wading to retrieve the remains of a cast-iron bath. Afterwards we set to our usual towpath edge clearance and repair, along the entire length to Crime Bridge, opening up the towpath somewhat. On Sunday, the coping replacement team moved back to the Fairbottom Branch, retrieving several stones and filling the appropriate gaps in the towpath edge. This weekend also coincided with the Sandbach Transport Festival, which the sales team attended, having quite a successful first day, although interest in the various stands was less evident on the Sunday due to the historic vehicle parade. May began with our annual joint dig with Essex WRG, which was the year’s second visit to Lichfield. Progress at Tamworth Road had progressed somewhat since our previous visit, with the pipework installed and buried by Lock 25, and the brickwork around the outfall well underway. Our tasks for the weekend started with the removal of the fencing and footbridge across the lock chamber (courtesy of Adrian), followed by breaking out the head of the bywash to then

pour a new concrete footing. Adrian commenced excavation of the drop chamber for the bywash, which continued through Sunday, whilst Paul organised the erection of a scaffolding handrail along the lock sides where the fencing was removed. As we were invited to the L&HCRT chairman’s house for a barbecue on the Saturday evening, most remained on site to finish the concrete pour, being collected as the van returned past site. On Sunday, a team was stationed below Lock 25 to progress the brickwork around the bywash outfall, whilst the brickwork for the head of the bywash was started, and the main channel measured and marked out. Ju also got her hands on the strimmer, and bashed some vegetation up near the main road. Sunday morning we backfilled the brickwork below Lock 25, then commenced a mass mix & pour of concrete into the pit to form the base of the drop chamber, this time finishing the job instead of running out of material half-way through. The following weekend was Paperchase, which coincided with the first Manchester Bolton & Bury dig at Ladyshore. Several of us joined the locals on site on Sunday and continued the towpath edge clearance either way from Ladyshore Bridge, almost reaching the steam crane at Mount Sion. The 17th May witnessed the first work party on the Manchester & Stockport Canal, which was patronised by several WRGNW volunteers, which saw the towpath bridge at Clayton Junction cleared of vegetation, though the day was cut short by a torrential downpour. The month was rounded off by the visit of the sales stand to the IWA Campaign Rally at Kiveton Park on the Chesterfield Canal. Sunshine and high temperatures brought out the crowds to make a successful weekend, which raised the profile of the Chesterfield Canal, and raised much money towards future restoration. June arrived, and things quietened down, with just our usual Paperchase and the annual visit of the sales stand to the Middlewich Folk & Boat Festival. July began with a rare summer dig, this being our third visit to the MB&B, this time at Agecroft. Amid scorching temperatures, we cleared a path through the many years’ worth of growth between Agecroft and Parkhouse Road Bridges. Only attending on the Sunday, it was difficult to tell where the

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towpath was when looking south from to Hollinwood. This involved our return to Agecroft Bridge when we arrived, though we the Fairbottom Branch near Croft End Farm. soon forged our way through, with Cameron Mindful of previous difficulties in crossing the attempting to forge a path through some narrows using pallets, I had brought an 11dense vegetation without the help of any foot section of shuttering to bridge the gap. tools. Unfortunately, the narrowest point turned Then it was quiet until the end of the out to be 10 foot 11 inches. Ooops! At least month, when we had our last Paperchase the crossing was stable, even though we still pre-National Festival, followed by the stall at had to step down to water level to cross. The Crumpsall Carnival on the Sunday. work that had been started in January was August consisted of our usual attendprogressed further, continuing the tree felling ance at the IWA National Waterways Festival as far as a widening of the channel some 60 at Redhill-on-Soar, with many on site up to a yards further. On the Sunday, we were joined fortnight prior to the event. The sales stand by Ju for some extreme tirforing. This inhad a successful weekend, helped by the volved wading out into the silt to latch onto weather and dry ground conditions, and we the roots to be pulled, and of course, getting made two £500 cheque presentations to the stuck in the mud. Needless to say Ju was in Lichfield & Hatherton Canals Restoration her element, and was coated in mud to the Trust, and the Chesterfield Canal Trust in top of the wrg logo on her t-shirt. support of their current appeals. December saw the year rounded off September came, but as many of us with our Christmas dig, this time held on the had barely returned home from the IWA Cromford Canal on the 5/6th. Site was at th National, the Paperchase on th 5 was short Sawmills near Ambergate, progressing the of volunteers, though we still achieved our work carried out in March. Whilst a fair usual collection amount in the usual time. stretch of mature tree growth was cleared, Two weeks later was the wedding of miscommunications during the week meant Malcolm Bridge and Barbara Fletcher. Bungle no-one at Lockwoods, the transport depot was best man, and the WRGNW youth sector adjacent to site, knew that we could borrow was very much in evidence in red wrg ttheir chipper, which meant that all the trees shirts at the reception. The month ended felled could not be disposed off (being adjawith yet another visit to the Manchester cent to housing meant we couldn’t have a Bolton & Bury Canal at Ladyshore, where yet bonfire). These were all left piled along the more towpath edge clearance was undertowpath edge for later disposal. taken, and the steam crane received a coat of New volunteers are welcome on all black paint. WRG NW weekends - our next one is schedOctober was dominated by the reunuled for the Hollinwood on March 20-21. See ion dig, held as part of the 40th Anniversary the Navvies Diary for details. of the 1969 Welshpool Big Dig that signalled Mike Chase the start of the restoration of the Montgomery Canal. We were allocated site three, where we cleared some 60 yards of canal bed from the road bridge, before drifting back onto sites 1 and 2 as Sunday progressed. The following weekend, GCW was commandeered for the October camp on the Monmouthshire Canal. November began with another Manchester Bolton & Bury dig, attended by a few wrgies, which witnessed the felling of all the trees obstructing the dry (read ‘wet’) canal bed between the paper mill warehouse and the dam installed after the 1936 breach near Ladyshore. Successive weekends then involved WRG NW in autumn: painting the MB&B crane another Paperchase, then our third visit

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...in which the author demonstrates that you don’t need to be able to talk in order to boss London WRG around...

Dig report London WRG on the Cotswolds

London WRG at Eisey, Oct 31-Nov 1 used to refer to these as ‘New’ and ‘Nearly Unfortunately I lost my voice prior to leading London WRG’s Eisey lock dig and had to communicate using written notes. Luckily I hung on to these notes so I can now use them to tell the story of our dig. Friday evening:

New’ Rachels but no one can ever remember which was which. We are currently waiting for one of them to do something especially embarrassing or foolish, in order to supply a suitable nickname.) Meanwhile, urning to my next note: NICE ACCOMM Yes it was very nice accomm at Watchfield Palace, where it was extremely warm and there were 2 showers. New Year camp will have had a pleasant time if they stayed there. L NO CIDER ONLY STRONGBOW IS THAT A PICKLED EGG? I see by this point we had moved onto the pub, where the very friendly locals were delighted to see us, although they didn’t buy us any drinks. Sadly it wasn’t a pickled egg, only a pickled onion masquerading as one. I hid my disappointment with a Strepsil. Oh and there was a better cider on after all, just the fringes on the landlady’s leather gilet were obscuring the Stowford Press label. This is the best cider in the world.

Martin Ludgate

This is me saying ‘Hello’ to Tim, to which he replied ‘Frank is coming later with 32 sausages’ I quickly did the maths and wrote ’50 sausages now’: the sum total of our sausage store for the weekend. Cleary my sore throat had not affected my powers of mental arithmetic. The people who were going to enjoy this sausage bonanza included Tim, Dave Miller, 2 different kinds of Martin, half an Alan Lines plus half a Frank Wallder (this may equal one whole Alan Wallder) Adrian Crow who kindly supplied the fizz for Saturday night (it was my birthday after all) and new recruit Pete Fleming. We also had one Rachel plus a spare Rachel in case the first one got In the pub. The chap at the back is the landlord, by the way... broken. (At one point we

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Dig report

“It was a shame I lost my voice as I had a particularly good joke about a man going into a sex shop which I think London WRG might have appreciated...”

London WRG on the Cotswolds Quite a lot of stupid drunken chat as you can see. It was a shame I lost my voice this particular weekend as I had a particularly good joke about a man going into a sex shop which I think London WRG might have appreciated. Possibly almost as much as they appreciated Nigel’s story about the dead Labrador. Never mind, I’ll save it for the next dig.

Tim Lewis


Good progress on the chamber wall them are burned anyway. Never mind! EVERYONE NEEDS TO MOVE THEIR KIT AND OUR FOOD KIT OUT OF THE WAY I see I woke up bossy. Only disadvantage of Watchfield is we had to share the hall with other groups. WE’RE SO LATE!! As usual, haring it to site way past the time we said we’d meet the local Jon Pontefract. Can I just put in a word for Jon he is very even-natured and helpful. Not at all like a local in any way in fact. CAN YOU BRING BRICK KIT? THX This is me getting a round in. SOMEONE NEEDS TO DO BREAKFAST TOMORROW That’s the beauty of being ill, it means you can’t do breakfast as no one wants you to cough on their sausages. Saturday morning: Just as well we have several dozen sausages too many as most of

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More bossing. It’s what leaders do best, voice or no voice. Rachel was doing a good job reading these out but I did notice she kept prefacing everything with ‘Sophie wants me to tell you…’ in case anyone mistook her for a fascist dictator, rather than a mere spokewoman for one. 3X SHARP, 2X SMOOTH, 2X LIME Good old Cotswold Lime mortar mix.

“...shows great promise of developing into a thick, noisy and overweight trip hazard...”

Dig report London WRG on the Cotswolds


even braved The Loo From Hell at the farm close to site.

Yes my actual Mum who was coming on her first ever dig but had made great pains to tell me she was going to have to arrive late and leave early. In the end she stayed longer than planned which I think meant she enjoyed it. WHERE’S THAT MORTAR? TEA’S UP!

Martin Ludgate

We headed back to the accomm where my Mum had made a casserole which was enjoyed by all. After a mug of hot mulled cider my voice was just starting to come back, however I decided not to go to the pub and headed home for a hot lemsip in a real bed. Those who carried on through the rainy Sunday sent me regular picture messages and seemed to get a lot of work done, finishing off the course it seems. Thanks to everyone who came and for Jon Pontefract for not being like a normal local. Sophie Smith

Martin Ludgate

Sometime round afternoon tea break Moose and Maria turned up, although there are no notes marking the occasion. Possibly they fell in the concrete mixer (the notes, not Moose or Maria). Much excitement surrounded the arrival of Moose’s new dog ‘Ace’ who greeted everyone by biting their fingers (that’s a trick to watch out for, folks). Although very thin, fairly quiet and with a real light of intelligence in his eyes, this rescue dog shows great promise of developing into a thick, noisy and overweight trip hazard once he has become a fully-fledged WRG dog. I shall look forward to being nibbled on by him at many future digs. Meanwhile new recruit #2 ie my mum was quite getting into the bricklaying and

Sophie and her Actual Mum working on the brickwork

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Directory Canal societies and WRG ASHBY CANAL ASSOC Rod Smith 4 Ashby Road, Sinope Coalville LE67 3AY Tel: 01530 833307 BARNSLEY, DEARNE & DOVE CANAL TRUST June Backhouse, 39 Hill St, Elsecar, Barnsley S74 8EN 01226 743383 www.bddct.org.uk BCN SOCIETY Jeff Barley, 17 Sunnyside Walsall Wood, W Midlands 01543 373284 www.bcn-society.org.uk BUCKINGHAM CANAL SOC Athina Beckett 2 Staters Pound Pennyland Milton Keynes MK1 5AX 01908 661217 email: athinabec@aol.com www.buckinghamcanal.org.uk BUGSWORTH BASIN (IWPS) Ian Edgar Top Lock House, Lime Kiln Lane, Marple SK6 6BX. 0161 429 7402 ian@theedgars.co.uk www.brocross.com/iwps/ index.htm CALDON & UTTOXETER CANALS TRUST John Rider 1 Dainty Close, Leek ST13 5PX 01538 386790 john@riderjohn.jsnet.co.uk

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CHESTERFIELD CANAL TRUST Mick Hodgetts 31 Pottery La Chesterfield S41 9BH 01246 620695 chesterfield-canal-trust.org.uk CHICHESTER SHIP CT Linda Wilkinson, 1 Chidham La Chichester PO18 8TL 01243 576701 www.chichestercanal.co.uk COTSWOLD CT 4 Black Jack St Cirencester GL7 2AA 01285 643440 mail@cotswoldcanals.com www.cotswoldcanals.com FRIENDS OF THE CROMFORD CANAL Tony Brookes 07770 350853 ggsonbolding@gmail.com www.cromfordcanal.org.uk DERBY & SANDIACRE CS Doug Flack 23 Thoresby Crescent, Draycott Derby DE72 3PH 01332 576037 www.derbycanal.org.uk DIG DEEP INITIATIVE Alan Cavender 53 Derwent Drive, Maidenhead, SL6 6LE 01628 629033 alancavender@tiscali.co.uk www.dig-deep.org.uk

DORSET & SOMERSET CANAL SOCIETY Derrick Hunt 43 Greenland Mills Bradford on Avon BA15 1BL 01225 863066 derrick.hunt@tesco.net DROITWICH CT Vaughan Welch 29 Dice Pleck, Northfield Birmingham B31 3XW 0121 477 9782 kvwelch@supanet.com www.worcs.com/dct EAST ANGLIAN WATERWAYS ASSOC David Revill, 43 Kings Road Coltishall, Norfolk NR12 7DX 01603 738648 david_gisela@hotmail.com EREWASH CANAL P&DA Mick Golds 73 Sudbury Avenue Larklands, Ilkeston Derbys DE7 5EA Notts (0115) 9328042 ESSEX WATERWAYS LTD Colin Edmond Paper Mill Lock, North Hill Little Baddow Essex CM3 4BT 01245 226245 colin.edmond@wrg.org.uk www.waterways.org.uk FOXTON INCLINED PLANE TRUST c/o Mike Beech Foxton Canal Museum Middle Lock, Gumley Road Foxton, Market Harborough Leicestershire LE16 7RA 0116 279 2657 mike@foxcm.freeserve.co.uk www.fipt.org.uk

ROLLE CANAL AND NTH DEVON WATERWAYS SOC Adrian & Hilary Wills Vale Cottage, 7 Annery Kiln Weare Giffard, Bideford EX39 5JE Tel: 01237 477705 adrian@thewills.eclipse.co.uk www.therollecanal.co.uk RIVER GIPPING TRUST Lewis Tyler, Church Cott The Street, Capel St Mary IP9 2EL. secretary@rivergippingtrust. org.uk GRAND WESTERN CANAL TRUST Denis Dodd, Wharf Cottage Nynehead, Wellington Somerset TA21 0BJ 01823 661653 GRANTHAM CANAL SOC Colin Bryan 113 Hoe View Road Cropwell Bishop Nottingham NG12 3DJ 01159 892248 colin.bryan@granthamcanal.com www.granthamcanal.com HEREFS & GLOUCS CT c/o The Wharf House, Over Gloucester GL2 8DB 01452 332900 www.h-g-canal.org.uk KESCRG Eddie Jones ‘Altamount’, Coventry Road Fillongley, Coventry CV7 8EQ 0845 226 8589 eddie@kescrg.org.uk www.kescrg.org.uk LANCASTER CT Paul Shaw, 12 Malham Clo Lancaster LA1 2SJ 01524 35685 paul_shaw@lineone.net www.lctrust.co.uk

LAPAL CANAL TRUST 26 Loynells Road, Rednal Birmingham B45 9NP 01785 713862 www.lapal.org

SHREWSBURY & NEWP’T CANALS TRUST Tam Hazan tamir_hazan@lineone.net www.sncanal.org.uk

LICHFIELD & HATHERTON CANALS REST'N TRUST Sue Williams, Norfolk House 29 Hall Lane, Hammerwich Burntwood WS7 0JP 01543 671427 info@lhcrt.org.uk www.lhcrt.org.uk

SHROPSHIRE UNION CS Richard Hall, 35 Tyrley Cotts Market Drayton TF9 2AH 01630 657737 hall@ostw.co.uk www.shropshireunion.org.uk SUSSEX OUSE RESTORATION TRUST SLEAFORD NAV TRUST Paul Morris, Farmcote Steve Hayes Nettlesworth Lane 10 Chelmer Close Old Heathfield N Hykeham, Lincs LN8 8TH Heathfield 01522-689460 TN21 9AP email: steve.hayes01453 863683 kyme@ntlworld.com sussexouse@hotmail.com www.sleafordnavigation.co.uk www.sxouse.org.uk

NEATH & TENNANT CS Ian Milne 16 Gower Road, Sketty, Swansea SA2 9BY 01792 547902 NWPG Graham Hawkes 27 Lawrence Rd., Tilehurst Reading RG30 6BH 0118 941 0586 grahamhawkes@btinternet.com www.nwpg.org.uk POCKLINGTON C.A.S Paul Waddington Church House, Main St. Hemingborough, Selby N. Yorks YO8 7QE 01757 638027 (eves) 01405 763985 (days) www.pocklington. gov.uk/PCAS

SOMERSETSHIRE COAL CANAL SOCIETY Bob Parnell, 34 Wedgewood Road Twerton Bath BA2 1NX 01225-428055 www.coalcanal.org RIVER STOUR TRUST John Morris 2 Stockton Close, Hadleigh Ipswich IP7 5SH jgmorris@btinternet.com www.riverstourtrust.org

SURREY & HANTS CANAL SOC Peter Redway, 1 Redway Cottages St. John's Lye, Woking GU21 1SL 01483 721710 p.redway1@btinternet.com www.basingstokecanal.org.uk/society

SWANSEA CANAL SOC Clive Reed 17 Smithfield Road, Pontardawe, Swansea, West Glam. SA8 4LA 01792 830782 THAMES & MEDWAY CANAL ASSOCIATION John Epton, 45 Vinson CLo Orpington BR6 0EQ homepage.ntlworld. com/john.epton/tmca WENDOVER ARM TRUST Roger Leishman 7 Hall Park Berkhamsted HP4 2NU 01442 874536 www.wendoverarmtrust.co.uk

STOVER CANAL SOCIETY George Whitehead 26 Northumberland Place, Teignmouth TQ14 8BU. Tel: 01626 775498 Georgewhitehead1@tiscali.co.uk, www.stovercanal.co.uk WEY & ARUN CT The Granary SCARS (SANKEY CANAL) STRATFORD ON AVON CS Flitchfold Farm Colin Greenall Roger Hancock Loxwood, Billingshurst 16 Bleak Hill Rd, Eccleston 1 Tyler Street West Sussex St. Helens WA10 4RW Stratford upon Avon CV37 6TY RH14 ORH 01744 731746 01789 296096 01403 752403 colin.greenall@btopenworld.com rogmabhan@aol.com office@weyandarun.co.uk www.scars.org.uk www.stratfordcanalsociety.org.uk www.weyandarun.co.uk SALTISFORD CT Budbrooke Road Warwick CV34 5RJ 01926 490 006 saltisfordcanal@aol.com, www.saltisfordcanal.co.uk

WILTS & BERKS CT George Eycott 4 Lewendon Road Newbury RG14 1SP 07771 775745 bungle@wrg.org.uk www.wilts-berks-canal.org.uk WOODEN CANAL BOAT SOCIETY 3 Beauchamp St Ashton under Lyne OL6 8LF 0161-330-8422 wcbs@beeb.net www.wcbs.org.uk WRG: GENERAL ENQUIRIES, CANAL CAMP BOOKINGS, DRIVER AUTHORISATION Jenny Black, IWA Island House, Moor Road, Chesham HP5 1WA 01494 783453 enquiries@wrg.org.uk www.wrg.org.uk WRG NORTH WEST Malcolm Bridge 3 Heather Bank Littleborough OL15 0JQ 01706 378582 nw@wrg.org.uk www.wrgnw.org.uk WRG NW - ENQUIRIES/ PAPERCHASES David McCarthy Woodstock, 14 Crumpsall Lane Manchester M8 5FB 0161-740 2179 www.wrgnw.org.uk WRG BITM & 'NAVVIES' DIARY David Wedd 7 Ringwood Road Blackwater, Camberley Surrey GU17 0EY 01252 874437 dave.wedd@wrg.org.uk www.wrgbitm.org.uk

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Directory LONDON WRG Tim Lewis 5 Herongate Road, Wanstead London E12 5EJ 07802 518094 tim@timlewis.org.uk www.london.wrg.org.uk

'NAVVIES' EDITOR Martin Ludgate 35 Silvester Rd. London SE22 9PB 020 8693 3266 0777 947 8629 (mobile) martin.ludgate@wrg.org.uk

WRG EAST MIDLANDS John Baylis 215 Clipstone Rd. West Forest Town Mansfield Notts NG19 0HJ 01623 633895

'WRGWEAR' CLOTHING Helen Gardner 33 Victoria Road Northwich CW9 5RE 07989 425346 wrgwear@wrg.org.uk

ESSEX WRG John Gale 24 Longleaf Drive Braintree, Essex CM7 1XS 01376-947360 essex@wrg.org.uk www.essex.wrg.org.uk

WRG BOAT CLUB Sadie Dean 236 Station Rd. Whittlesey Peterborough PE7 2HA 01733 204505 07748 186867 (mobile) sadiedean@msn.com

WRG SOUTH WEST Gavin Moor 54 Kiln Close Calvert Buckingham MK18 2FD 07970 989245 Gavin.Moor@wrg.org.uk

WRG DIRECTORS CHAIRMAN Mike Palmer 3 Finwood Road Rowington Warwickshire CV35 7DH 01564 785293 mike.palmer@wrg.org.uk

IWA/WRG STAMP BANK Steve & Mandy Morley 33 Hambleton Grove Emerson valley Milton Keynes MK4 2JS 01908 520090 mail@morleytowers.org.uk CANAL CAMPS MOBILES (A) 07850 422156 (B) 07850 422157

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WRG PLANT George Eycott 4 Lewendon Road Newbury RG14 1SP 07771 775745 bungle@wrg.org.uk SITES GROUP Judith Palmer 3 Finwood Rd. Rowington Warwickshire CV35 7DH 01564 785293 jude.moore@btinternet.com WRGPRINT John & Tess Hawkins 4 Links Way Croxley Grn Rickmansworth WD3 3RQ 01923 448559 john.hawkins@wrg.org.uk IWA CHAIRMAN Clive Henderson c/o IWA, Island House Moor Road, Chesham HP5 1WA clive.henderson@ waterways.org.uk TRANSPORT MANAGER Jonathan Smith 23 Hardings Chalgrove Oxford OX44 7TJ 01865 891 370 jonathan.smith@wrg.org.uk

OTHER DIRECTORS Rick Barnes 11 Lawns Park North Woodchester Stroud GL5 5PP 07976 748345 rick.barnes@wrg.org.uk Mick Beattie 42 Eaton Drive Rugeley WS15 2FS Spencer Collins The Boatyard, 5 Hammond Way Trowbridge BA14 8RS 07790 017418 spencer.collins@wrg.org.uk Chris Davey Angle House Green Terrace Skipton BD23 5DS chris.davey@wrg.org.uk John Baylis, 215 Clipstone Rd. West Forest Town Mansfield Notts NG19 0HJ 01623 633895 Harry Watts 12 St John Road, Slough SL2 5EY 07889 237834 harry.watts@wrg.org.uk

Help us keep this directory up to date If you spot any errors or omissions or know of any changes to any contact details in this list (for example a new work party organiser) please pass them on to the editor. The next full directory will appear in issue 242, but any corrections received before then will also be included in the next available ‘Navvies Noticeboard’ Thanks you for your assistance in maintaining an up-to-date Directory

First the good news As you may have heard, the threat by the Government to force the sale of British Waterways’ commercial property and use it to fill a small part of the hole in the country’s finances has receded. Although not everyone feels ‘BW the property developer’ is an ideal model for financing a historic canal network, ending it in the drastic manner proposed would have been seriously bad news. Let’s hope (optimists that we are) for a more measured approach to trying to get BW to wherever we want it to go.

Now the bad news Remember those battles the canal movement used to fight against road-builders who would happily bulldoze their way through a restoration project to save a few quid? Remember how we thought we’d seen the last of them thanks to new planning guidance? And remember how the road-builders managed to sidestep the new rules at Lichfield? Well they’ve done it again on the Grantham. The new A46 crosses the canal - all well and good, they’re building a bridge. But half a mile away the new road crosses Stragglethorpe Lane, which crosses the canal on the level - and unless a new canal bridge for the lane is put in now, it may be prohibitively expensive later. But the Highways Agency won’t include it as a (very minor) part of the A46 job - because they don’t have to, as Stragglethorpe Lane isn’t a new road. It isn’t a lost cause yet, but Grantham Canal Partnership has a battle on its hands to get the plans changed. See www... On the Sankey they’ve gone one better. Some cowboy developer has not only got consent to put a new low-level access bridge across the canal, but when it turned out that the bridge had illegally obstructed the towpath, they put in an application to shut the towpath! Sorry to depress you with bad news, but it shows how far we still are from getting some canal restorations respected by officialdom. Will the proposed changes to BW make matters better or worse - or not make a blind bit of difference? Feel free to write to the editor with your views.

WRG Boat Club news Jan 2010 As I write the River Nene is closed because of High Water, I assume some of the snow

Navvies news

must have melted, and much of the Middle Level and all of the canals are frozen. Hmm not a lot of boating news then! I have had a message from Association of Waterways Cruising Clubs about the New Handbook. They are keen that as many of us as possible can get it on line. Please let me have your email address, if I haven’t it already. Contacting members by e-mail, and not having to buy and post the handbooks to over 40 people, saves the impact on the environment, money and time! I had a very nice ‘thank you’ letter from The Grantham Canal Society and an update the restoration plans. The top length of the canal is due to open Easter 2010 and there will be a slipway for use by visiting craft at Denton Wharf. For up to date restoration news you can subscribe to their ‘electronic news sheet’ by sending your e-mail address to membership@granthamcanal.com and request addition to the mailing list. Our foreign correspondent has been in touch, enquiring about the situation during this very cold spell, it all seems so tragic when all your information is from Sky TV coverage. Still by the time you read this England will be as hot and sunny as where she is, as she was pleased to point out! The Nene, however, will still be closed until Easter or later. I have a list of the Winter/ Spring stoppages for the Anglian Region. Phone or e-mail me if you want information. Some (prospective) good news, the local IWA are working on persuading the Middle Level Commissioners and Local Councils to give permission to construct some landing stages at some of the interesting spots on the Middle Level Navigations. We wish them well. I haven’t received any more suggestions from members about gatherings/activities we can boat to. I know, as our illustrious editor pointed out, that the Droitwich just may not be open should we gather to cruise it together. Under those circumstances we could then spend time doing something to help speed up the opening and letting people know how desirable the opening of the canal will be! I hope we can all look forward to many improvements in facilities, structures and navigation this year, not to mention joyous understanding between boaters and canal restorers with relevant authorities! xxx Sadie Dean (optimistic as ever) sadiedean@msn.com

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NOTICEBOARD Online Navvies subscriptions You can now take out or renew a Navvies subscription online via the IWA online shop website. The address is:

https://www.iwashop.com/ecommerce/ proddetail.asp?prod=nav1

...from WRG Print to everybody who has helped at the Navvies envelope-stuffing sessions at the London Canal Museum and of course grateful thanks to the museum for continued use of the facilities. It’s good to see the regulars but it would assist us greatly if some more people could attend. It only takes about a couple of hours, but a lot of the London WRG people have now moved away some to Australia! To offer your services contact John Hawkins - see p2 for details

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 Hambleton Grove, Milton Keynes MK4 2JS. All proceeds to canal restoration.

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

Thanks to Chris Griffiths of Stroudprint for his continued help with printing

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to J Alison Smedley MBE whose name appears in the New Year Honours List for services to waterways




Well done

...to... Spencer Collins and Victoria Westwood on their engagement

DREDGER CREW WANTED Cotswold CanalsTrust has recently refurbished its dredging fleet (dredger, tug, barges) to start work on the volunteer contribution to clearing the Phase 1a length of the canal near Stonehouse, and is looking for more crew with the relevant WRG driver authorisation and people to train the Trust’s volunteers. If you are an operator or (especially) an instructor in the appropriate category and would be able to help for anything from a few days to a longer period, CCT would be delighted to hear from you. Just drop an email to: Ken@ladywood.F9.co.uk

Room to let James Butler has a south facing double room to rent with off road parking in a quiet village near Banbury and Daventry. If you are interested contact James (or Jenny at Head Office) for further details

Don’t worry Jane and John will be back sometime soon...

Infill Have you a question for Deirdre?

Dear Deirdre, is it socially acceptable to untag unflattering photos of oneself which ones so-called friends have put on Facebook?

Birmingham and to be honest I’m a bit scared. Is it safe up there?

Deirdre Writes: unfortunately a

lot of what is said about the north is true. Fortunately there is going to be able. Although admitting you are sen- a parallel bash organised for softer sitive about such things is like a red southern types. You’ll be staying at a rag to most WRGies in possesion of a Travelodge outside Tunbridge Wells, camera. Be aware you could wake quilted toilet tissue has been ordered in from a booze-coma to find ‘I touch specially and you’ll be doing some light kids’ written on your forehead in pergardening work with no heavy lifting. manent marker, a cigarette butt in Special calfskin work gloves have been each nostril and your own Flickr tribute laid on and bottled water will be availalbum. able if you feel at all faint during the long drive back to the home counties. Dear Deirdre: I hear this year’s Bonfire Bash is going to be ‘oop Have you got a question for Deirdre? north’. I’ve never been further than Just email deirdre@wrg.org.uk

Deirdre Writes: perfectly accept-

WRGieotypes No 14: The photographer

No sooner is Terry home from a dig than he’s plugging in his digital SLR and uploading the latest album. Patiently he tags all the people in each photo in turn. He’s sure folks appreciate having a photo guide to their weekend, although he can’t understand why so many of the women frantically untag their photos as soon as he puts them up. It’s false modesty really: most WRGies are far more interested in seeing how the wingwalls are doing at Eisey lock than how dark the circles are under anyone’s eyes.

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From this...

And from this...

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Profile for The Inland Waterways Association

Navvies 239  

Navvies 239 - magazine for volunteers restoring the waterways.

Navvies 239  

Navvies 239 - magazine for volunteers restoring the waterways.