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volunteers restoring waterways

navvies waterway recovery group

Issue No 240 April-May 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. Directors of WRG: Rick Barnes, John Baylis, Mick Beattie, James Butler, Spencer Collins, Christopher Davey, George Eycott, John Hawkins, Judith Palmer, Michael Palmer, Jonathan Smith, Harry Watts. ISSN: 0953-6655 Š 2010 WRG

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


Contents In this issue... Chairman training, birthday, BW blues 4-5 Coming soon Cavalcade, Training, and first half of the summer camps preview 6-9 Camp report February on the Chelmer10-15 WRG at 40 this time Helen interviews Mike Day and Harry Arnold 16-21 Diary canal camps and weekend digs 22-24 Letters accommodation, Xmas cooks 25-26 Survey what have you left behind? 27 Progress restoration roundup 28-32 WRGBC boat club update 33 Plant rebuilding a concrete mixer 34-35 London WRG news from the south 36-38 News the princess and the barn dance 39-40 Noticeboard who’s had a kid this time? 41 Infill including Dear Deirdre and the department of the bleeding obvious 42-43 Above Bridge-bashing on the Chelmer - see report p10. Left Goughs Orchard Lock, site for four camps (see p8) and a training day (see p5). Below London WRG on the H&G - see p36. Front cover WRG North West on the Chesterfield (pic: Chesterfield Canal Trust). Back cover Where it all began: the original WRG display at Guildford (Harry Arnold) and its modern incarnation at Windsor Leisure Show (Nic Bennett)

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 241: May 1st.

Martin Ludgate

Subscriptions A year's subscription (6 issues) is available for a minimum of ÂŁ1.50 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


Chairman

MKP gives us the latest on WRG’s 40th anniversary celebrations, plus some changes to the camp kits and training weekend

Birthdays and sharp knives...

we need is your enthusiasm. Best of all it features scaffolding towers just like the very This Comment starts off with a really impor- first WRG display (see back cover)… tant Health & Safety bit that will genuinely …which naturally leads on to the fact affect you all: we have replaced all the that it’s our 40th birthday this year. There are kitchen knives in both the Canal Camp many versions of how WRG came into being kits. So this summer they really will be very but it’s generally agreed that Graham Palmer sharp. By the time you read this we will also decided that his organisation should be have refurbished all the First Aid kits as well. called Waterway Recovery Group and then Which is probably not a bad thing given the “made it so” by putting up lots of WRG banfirst bit of news! ners at the IWA National Rally in 1970 (held In fact we have been doing quite a bit in early August in those days – Friday 7 to of work on the Camps kits and partly this is Monday 10 in that particular year, with the down to support from some old friends who boats arriving on the Friday and the main are no longer with us - IWA Herts branch. events beginning Saturday, so Saturday 8 (Obviously the individual members are all August is probably the closest thing we have still around but the branch itself was abto a founding date). sorbed in other branches recently). Anyway So, depending on how you look at it, our supporters in Herts branch heard about our official birthday is either (a) on the 8th of our recent efforts and made a donation of August (b) at the IWA National Festival, or £1000 to enable the complete refurbishment (c) whenever the scheming Chairman unof a trailer’s worth of tools. leashes a plan he has had in his head for So, this summer, when you notice that sometime and decided the time is right. you don’t have to go through the entire So which do we celebrate? All three of toolbox to find a sharp chisel then it is them course! On 7-8 August London WRG - the you need to think of and silently thank. natural descendants of London & Home Whilst our core is kept running by our main Counties IWA (the group which Graham IWA grant (which also comes from the mem- Palmer was involve in, and which originally bers) it is smaller, more direct support like published Navvies Notebook as this magathis that makes our job so much easier and zine was originally titled), will actually be we are very grateful to Michael Wright and all only a stone’s throw from the Guildford his members for their lasting legacy. National site for their weekend dig on the You can tell it’s spring (I am writing this Wey & Arun Canal and will be doing their in sunshine !) as lots of change appears to be thing as only they can. happening. Some of it good… At the National Festival site we will also We recently went to the British Leisure be holding a party/celebration - details to Show at Windsor with our new “display stand follow but it’s going to be the weekend of in a van”. It all went very well and our new 21/22 August ie a week before the actual system does seem to be a good way of festival. We aim to have a Mr. Mac charabanc getting a lot of interest from the sort of tour of interesting parts*, a relaxing social people we want to meet. We would very riverboat trip and a party with food and much like to try a County Show next spring some entertainment. Exactly what sort of so if you know of a good one, or if you entertainment is still being discussed but we would be interested in helping out, then are hoping to put together a selection of please let us know. The new stand is really amusing speakers from all over the last 40 quite easy to set up, we can handle all the years, add a few illustrated talks, the odd paperwork for the show etc. and give you pantomime excerpt etc. For anyone who has idiot proof instructions on how to run it. All wielded a shovel in the last 40 years it

Chairman’s Comment

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should jog a few memories. As for version (c) - well, I’ll let you know! Another change is the Training weekend. We have thought about all the training we need to do to get through 2010 and beyond and it comes down to scaffolding, brickwork (that’s demolition and preparation, not just bricklaying) and vans & trailers. We actually have a site that has all these ready set up and so it seems daft to create the facilities elsewhere. What’s more we think that we can easily fit everybody’s requirements into a single day and so we are going to run it as that. Shrinking it down to just one day doesn’t imply any reduction in our commitment to training , nor any reduction in what we are offering. We just think we can do it in a slightly cleverer way and so it makes sense to do so. So the Training Weekend is NOT now on the 12/13 June but will be on Saturday 3 July at Goughs Orchard lock on the Cotswold Canal. This is a great site and it is “properly live” - indeed it will have campers swarming all over the scaffolding the very next day so it represents a chance to learn skills in an active environment. Sorry to all those people who had 12/13 June blocked out in their diary but we think this is a change worth making (I did say change was in the air). And now onto changes that are probably not so good….. It seems that the current financial climate is causing many people to tighten belts and, even worse, shorten their outlook. In particular the big two, BW and EA, are starting to cancel various projects we had in plan. I understand that they are being given very clear instructions from on high and being told to abandon any unnecessary spend and so I certainly don’t blame the waterway managers who are having to deliver the bad news. But it is hugely frustrating that just as both of them started to change their views regarding volunteers and we started to get some real understanding on all sides of the contribution volunteers could make, (ie that any money could be made to stretch further), then the shutters have suddenly come down due to, of all things, lack of money! Sigh - if only there was a bigger version of IWA Herts branch; that had a bit of cash and a lot of experience to step in when temporary difficulties like these were encountered… You may have noticed that the WRG calendar towards the end of the year goes a

bit vague. We know we will be having a Bonfire Bash and a Christmas / New Year camp and we know that both of them will probably be on a site starting with ‘M’. However whether that will be Montgomery or Manchester, Bolton and Bury is a bit unknown. This is simply because there are potential opportunities on both, but neither is really ready to nail down what is the best way to give our contribution. However full marks for the bit of BW that runs the Monty as, in the aforementioned difficult times, they have called a meeting to try and clear the decks and get a vision of where all the possible contributions can all fit together. Hopefully we will be able to fill in the gaps in the end of the year very soon (and you can see just how heavy duty the new waterproof on your Christmas list needs to be). One temporary change that has had a negative effect: for the last six weeks I’ve been fighting an ear infection/meningism. Which means that I was fine for about eight hours of the day, but then I have to crawl off to a darkened room. Which means by the time I’d dealt with the real job, and then with any big WRG event, the chances of individual correspondence being dealt with were low. But I can hear again now so all is well (that’s not the same as saying I’ll listen of course). And finally, two things that have not changed: firstly the WRG regional groups are as active as ever, still going out there and putting the effort in and secondly Jenny Black at Head Office - pretty much everything we do now has a percentage of JB in it. So be grateful for both these things, I certainly am. Whilst writing this the sun has disappeared however, I’m still looking forward to the months ahead. See you on site somewhere. Mike Palmer PS The next place I’m digging is Burslem port and Cheshire Locks. It looks like they are going to run an appeal to fund the next stages of work there once we have uncovered the wonders of the Trent & Mersey. More details (and I suspect a book of raffle tickets) in the next navvies. * That’s a charabanc tour organised by Mr. Mac of interesting bits of restored and unrestored waterways NOT a charabcanc tour of the interesting bits of Mr. Mac. !

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Coming soon

Your last chance to volunteer as a camp leader for this summer. Plus a chance to help run a festival in Wales, and some important news about training

Leader training, Cavalcade...

Coming soon: summer Canal Camps 2010 As usual we’ve got an excellent programme of camps planned for this summer with a variety of interesting work on an assortment of sites. But before we tell you all about them on the following pages, we’ve just got one small matter to sort out first...

Final call for canal camp leaders for 2010 This is going to be the last chance for me to beg and plead with you all via Navvies to be a leader for this years summer camps. I would like to thank everyone who has kindly volunteered to lead, assist or cook on a camp - and as you can see from the updated chart opposite we’ve filled in a lot of the gaps since last time. I do have to say, though, for all of you out there who haven’t been asked and would like to be part of a camp leadership team, to please get in touch with myself or Jenny Black at head office. We can only ask the people we think of. If we haven’t thought of you, it may well be down to us not knowing you are interested, or I could be spending time being at work far too many hours, or it might be that we don’t actually know you as we haven’t been on a camp that you have been on, or it could simply be down to me being forgetful and thinking I have asked you when I haven’t! So don’t sit there feeling sorry for yourself because you haven’t been asked - get in touch. We do still have some gaps left that need filling and as much as I love wrg, I don’t fancy leading 5 camps this summer!!! The camps programme is shaping up to be another good one with the work and hopefully the weather will be on our side too, unlike this winter was! Please see the list of camps and the gaps we still need to fill, and think about whether you can fill one of them. If you could come back to us with a complete leadership team, that would be even better still. You know who you get along with, where as we have a good idea, but would hate to put you with someone who turns out to be the most annoying person because they pick their nose constantly and talk about Land Rovers and diffs and top dead centres! (Not that we have any people like that in WRG...) And if you do fancy leading a camp and haven’t done it before, see below about the Leader Training Day. Thank you all who have come forward so far and I hope you have a brilliant camp. Happy camping everyone. James Butler (james.butler@wrg.org.uk)

WRG Leader Training Day Just a reminder about the leader’s training day on Saturday 15th May at Tom’s Farm in Northamptonshire. If you are attending please sign up with me or Jenny Black at head office so that I can cater for you. This day is free and includes lunch; feedback from previous years has been positive. If you are assisting for the first time then I really recommend it, likewise if you haven’t attended for a while then a refresher is a good idea - things do change (the agenda and the regulations). We’ll be covering all sorts of subjects that you may encounter as a canal camp leader or a local working party organiser from environmental concerns via health and safety to feeding your camp. I’d love to see as many as possible - if you want to discuss anything with me first then please give me a call. Helen Gardner (helen_gardner@hotmail.com 07989 425346)

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WRG Training Weekend Day 12/13 June 3 July We’ve had a bit of a re-think about training this year. See Mike Palmer’s piece on pages 4-5 for a bit more information about the it, but basically this year instead of the usual training weekend we’re having a training day at Gough’s Orchard Lock on 3 July, the Saturday prior to the start of the second of four camps there. We’ll be concentrating on vans and trailers, scaffolding and various jobs to do with brickwork, and we’ll have more about it in the next Navvies.

Canalway Cavalcade site services camp at Little Venice, 28 Apr - 4 May Just to remind you that Canalway Cavalcade at Little Venice is nearly upon us. I have some volunteers but could always do with some more? I promised a luxury bed space with mattress, in the best possible location, I might have lied and got you a bed space in an old working boat, but it is in London! Set up starts from Wednesday 28 April; Festival is the weekend of the May Bank Holiday 1 - 3 May; and then we take it all down - it should all be done by Tuesday Night, accommodation boat Belfast will move out Tuesday midday. For those who don’t know what Cavalcade is turn up and we will give you a guided tour. Then we will make you work, might even feed you! (Depending what mood I’m in) Seriously, if anyone is coming then I do need to know as accommodation is at a premium. Dave ‘Moose’ Hearnden (Moose@wrg.org.uk, 07961 922153)

Welsh Waterways Festival Another chance to visit beautiful Welsh Wales. Once again, WRG have been asked to provide some site services for the IWA National Trailboat Rally. This year it Is combined with the Welsh Waterways Festival and is being run by the Mon & Brec Canal Trust over the late Spring Bank Holiday. Details are still to be confirmed but it is not likely to be a large camp so if you are a Mon & Brec enthusiast, get in quick! Provisional dates are from Wed 26th May until Wed 2nd June based at Kimberley Park in Newport. Work will be helping out with site services and assisting with the boats - accommodation will be camping on-site. Once details have been confirmed - booking as usual via Jenny Black. Frank Wallder

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

Start 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 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 Cook Cotswold: Goughs A Montgomery B Lou Kellett Cotswold: Goughs A Martyn Worsley Clive Knight Montgomery B Steve Harmes Chris Colbourne Cotswold: Goughs A Chesterfield B Mike Chase Cotswold: Goughs A Becky Parr Nikki Packer Chad Reid Grantham B Harry Watts Cotswold: Eisey A KESCRG leaders Grantham B Ed Walker Gordon Brown Harri Barnes Cotswold: Eisey A Martin Thompson George Rogers Mandy Morley Chelmer & Blackwater B Mon & Brec A Mike Chase Ju Davenport Basingstoke B Cotswold: Eisey NWPG leaders Mon & Brec A Sophie Smith Helena Howarth Basingstoke B Fred Towey Lorraine Hughes National A+BMitch Gozna Kirsty Wallace Grand Western A Mark Richardson Kirsty Wallace Mitch Gozna Chelmer & Blackwater B Rob Daffern

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And then what?

In part one of our summer camps preview, we tempt you with the Chesterfield, Grantham, Cotswold and Mont

A whole summer of canal camps Summer Canal Camps 2010

have my way, enjoying the work, rest and play! (No guarantee is offered regarding the either the brick moving, the scaffold moving or the mortar making!) Social Activities: Inevitably we will be forced to get to know each other, possibly over half a shandy! There is usually the opportunity to go to the cinema, visit a cider factory or learn to weave fog. It is sometimes even possible to go on a canal boat and see a canal tunnel or significant structure. (No guarantee is offered regarding fog weaving, canal boat or significant structure... some people just don’t know how to have a good time) But seriously, I know the camp leader and his dog well... I can assure you a safe, pleasant week in a very nice part of southern England. Who knows, you might even enjoy is so much, you will want to come again next year. I did, and I don’t even like canals! With encouragement like that, who could possibly resist a week at Goughs? But just in case you aren’t tempted, we’re also running a couple of camps at the start of the summer on the Montgomery Canal. We’ve been working there for quite a few years now, and for the last couple of years we’ve been concentrating on rebuilding a large

Mike Chase

By the time this copy of Navvies arrives, the start of the main summer Canal Camps programme will be just two months away so here’s the first part of a preview of what we’re going to be getting up to this summer. And it starts off on the Cotswold Canals at Goughs Orchard, one of our main sites for this year. Goughs Orchard Lock, deep in the Stroud Valley, is one of the many locks that the Thames & Severn Canal climbs through on its way up to Sapperton Tunnel. It’s a particularly important one at the moment because it’s the last lock of the six mile length of canal from Stonehouse through Stroud to Brimscombe which is being completely restored and reopened over the next three years as the Cotswold Canals Phase 1a restoration project. And restoring this lock is one of the major volunteer contributions to the scheme. To really make some good progress we’re holding four consecutive weeks of camps there: Camp 03 (26 Jun - 3 Jul), 05 (3-10 Jul), 07 (10-17 Jul) and 09 (17-24 Jul). Here’s Clive Knight, one of the leaders of camp 05, to tell us some more about it... Dear Potential Wergie (apparently its short for Volunteer Canal Restorer), as Assistant Leader for this particular canal restoration extravaganza it’s my pleasure to outline the potential hightlights as follows. Location: The stunning Cotswolds, resplendent with olde worlde stone buildings, masonry structures, sunshine, and of course clear blue skies!! (No guarantee is offered regarding either the sunshine or clear blue skies) Activities: Whilst I understand the majority of the project will be the re-build of a brick lock, with stone copings (no weight in them eh?) there is inevitably going to be plenty of brick moving, scaffold Rebuilding Crickheath Wharf on the Montgomery moving, mortar making and if i

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Canals, the four weeks at Goughs will be coming to an end - but that isn’t the end of our work there, because we’ll be moving some fifteen miles east along the same canal to Eisey Lock, another one that’s mid-way through a complete rebuild at the moment. Our friends in KESCRG are running Camp 11 (24-31 Jul) then Martin Thompson and George Rogers take over for the second week. Tell us about it, Martin... “Eisey Spy with my little eye something begin with M?” Give up? Meat! Why meat? Because Camp 13, 31 July - 7th August is the meat in the 2010 summer camp Eisey Lock sandwich! It has a prime cut of youth and ‘alleged’ experienced leadership, a slice of mature cook, all delivered to you in the party bus. Hopefully the preceding KESCRG camp will have the preparation work completed and the replacement brickwork started, so it’ll be heads down and brickwork up! Be ‘King of the line’ or practice for that little job at home or just to learn a new skill, camp 13 could be lucky for you. Absolute bricklaying, mortar mixing, brick shifting and scaffolding under the Cotswold sun with great local support. It never rains in the Water Park but just in case it does, an interesting choice of trips & evening entertainment will be served for everyone’s delectation and delight and we’ll leave the topping out for NWPG on the following week! ...and we’ll have more about the following week, and the rest of the camps programme, next time. But don’t wait - book for the early camps now, to avoid disappointment. Martin Ludgate

Martin Ludgate

stone wharf wall where limestone used to be transhipped from horse-drawn wagons onto boats at Crickheath. As well as a piece of history, it’s also going to make a splendid destination for the next bit of the canal to reopen to boats - hopefully in a couple of years’ time - so we’d better get it finished. Lou Kellett is leading camp 04 (26 Jun - 4 Jul), then Steve Harmes and Chris Colbourne take over for camp 06 (4-11 Jul). Next we head a little way north-eastwards to the Derbyshire / Yorkshire border for a week on the Chesterfield Canal, a restoration project that really seems to be starting to happen in a big way at the moment. Let’s hear about it from the leader for Camp 08 (July 10-17) Mike Chase: Having achieved so much last year, this year we return to Renishaw to continue progress to construct the towpath wall to connect the two parts of the ‘Renishaw Mile’ length of canal under restoration. Work will include building foundations in steel mesh and concrete and then blockwork to build the wall. Don’t worry if you have never done this before, as full training will be given. As last year, this project will provide very quick results and considerable progress should be seen during the camp. In addition, the Chesterfield Canal Trust are holding a festival at Worksop at the end of the week, so some assistance may be required in setting up the site. Accommodation will once again be at Doe Lea, with its multitude of facilities, including a basketball court, and of course, the pub is just upstairs!. I have booked the weather, so this is sure to be a great camp! Following on from Chesterfield we have two weeks of camps on the Grantham Canal: Camp 10 (17-24 Jul) led by Harry Watts, who then hands over the reins to Ed Walker and Gordon Brown for Camp 13 (2431 Jul). Over to Ed... Gordon and I (with Harri B cooking!) will be leading the second of the two Grantham camps this year. The work will be finishing off the culvert replacement that Harry Watts will have started the previous week - plenty of opportunities for machine work, concreting and generally getting quite grubby then! Otherwise the usual camp activities of great food, a boat trip, bell ringing and maybe a brewery tour will be happening - get your booking in quick as it’s filling fast! Meanwhile back on the Cotswold

Eisey Lock - help to rebuild it this summer

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Camp report Chelmer & Blackwater Chelmer & Blackwater Camp There might only have been one camp so far this year, but we already have two camp reports - because volunteer Gary and cook Maria both sent reports in from the same camp. We’ve interleaved them, at the risk of confusing the readers completely. Over to Maria...

rails around its edge whatsoever. We crossed to the outside and walked towards the bow whereupon we stepped on to the very slippery wooden deck of the Thames Barge Pudge, grasping some rigging for support. The name rang a bell but still James marched onwards. Again I followed him across the deck and then had to step on to a 3’ x 2’ piece of plywood which bridged the gap between Pudge and the second Thames Sailing Barge Centaur. As I stepped on to it I looked down and noticed three things: about forty feet below I could see the silt bank that all three barges had settled on [the tide was out], one end of the plywood bridge was secured with a bit of poly rope and the other end was held in place by gravity [this was confirmed by the un-tethered end lifted itself up in to the air as I stepped off it]. The deck of Centaur was extremely slippery, also made of wood and had a fearsome camber on it. I followed James across this deck to the Port rail as he lifted a sheet of polythene to reveal the hatch which led to the hold. I stepped inside, climbed down the wooden steps, stepped over the biggest metal RSJ I’d ever seen [the “Keelson”] without grazing my shin and narrowly managed not to bash my head on a cast iron strut which supported the main deck above me. As I entered the Saloon I was greeted by

Martin Ludgate

Our accommodation for the week, Centaur, a Thames sailing barge owned by the Barge Trust, is moored on the tidal river Blackwater. Centaur is over 100 years old, but still goes to sea in the summer months. It has a saloon/dining area with the galley across the width of that. It has 4 bunk rooms and a bow room cabin. As the barge has been kept as original as possible it only has a solid fuel stove for heating and one hand pump for running water, and a sea toilet. Hot water was from the kettles that were heated on the stoves. Showers and toilets were just opposite the boats on the bank. Moose set off for Maldon, with the van and trailer on Saturday morning to meet Colin, the Navigation Manager, at Centaur. The members from the trust were just lighting the stove and you could see your breath on the Barge. When I arrived it was warmer in the saloon, where the stove was, but the bunk rooms were still a bit chilly. While James and I went shopping, campers started to arrive one by one... I’m not a particularly superstitious person but it was 13th February and when I arrived at Hythe Quay in Maldon, I could see the van but not the barge I was supposed to be staying on. I phoned Moose and seconds later, James appeared from nowhere and met me on the quayside. “Follow me, watch your step and mind your head,” he said, as I followed him to a gangway made of wriggly tin, wooden cross struts and a rope hand rail. I gingerly walked across it and stepped on to the slippery metal deck of the Lighter Sailorman, which had absolutely no safety

First canal camp of 2010, and a camp with a difference: a working waterway rather than a derelict one, and instead of restoring it we were knocking it down...

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Job for the week: demolish this bridge


Martin Ludgate

Moose and Maria. Phew! I had boarded Centaur for the first time and had escaped injury. By the end of the week I had slipped head over toe three times on Centaur and twice on Sailorman; and as for banging my head, well as I run my fingers through my skinhead haircut, my head feels like a bag of walnuts. I still cannot believe that Moose and Maria managed to get their two German shepherd dogs Ace and Bess on and off the three vessels without any major dramas. Centaur was built in 1895 and used to ferry wheat and other commodities up and down the Thames. The hold had been converted so that The accommodation: a 100 year old wooden sailing barge towards the stern there was a compact saloon and a small galley; and towards the bow several cabins containing wooden bunks. I The trailer is already on site and we don’t have shared a cabin with James [and Sandy the dog] to worry about unloading the barge – that’s not and immediately noticed how cold the cabin was. our problem. It’ll be a doddle” The only source of heating on board was a small I asked a small question about the conwood burner which was located in the saloon / crete and Moose replied: “It’s about five inches galley area. Moose told me that it hadn’t been thick and it could be reinforced.” lit for over a week and it would take a while for My alarm bells should have been ringing the barge to heat up. He wasn’t kidding. by now but it all sounded jolly good and I was With our small camp all assembled, the looking forward to the challenge. safety talk all done, we ate dinner, and adThe team was small but experienced. journed to the nearest pub, all of 50 yards Apart from James, Moose and Maria, we had from the end of the gangplank, for a beer. Martin (the Ed), Navvies John, Halifax James and I got up to do the first breakJonathan, Sleepy Dave, BITM Mark, IT Richfast and the galley was about 15 degrees ard and even Helen the purple fairy pitched up. warmer than our cabin. Moose and Maria had I was the least experienced apart from Tony moved in to the saloon because the bow cabin who confessed [under interrogation] that he was so cold, condensation was dripping from the worked for IWA and that this was his first ever underside of the deck. The barge did get much WRG experience. Moose suspected he was a warmer as we all made sure that the wood spy but in true WRG tradition we gave him his burner was kept at full blast 24/7 with coal and PPE, quickly followed by a mattock and a sledge the paint, varnish and bitumen covered timber hammer. By the end of the week, he was an from the remains of another vessel. expert at banging stakes in to the ground and Moose had briefed us on the job in his making faggots. He commented that it was “a usual fashion. The objective was to demolish a little more physical than he was expecting” but small footbridge which spanned the Chelmer & I’m sure we’ll see him again sometime soon. Blackwater so that it could be replaced with a The site was a good one. We soon dug out more traditional version. He listed the main the approach ramps and filled the one ton bags tasks: erect a bit of herras fencing, dig out the with soil. However, we realised that Moose’s two approach ramps and put the soil in some one summary of the task was somewhat lacking in ton bags, remove a tubular steel hand rail, detail – dare I say economical with the truth? break out the concrete deck and remove the two The concrete was not reinforced [that’s RSJs and the original wooden support beam the good news]. However, amongst the bad from underneath. news, there were four RSJs [not two] and the “There’ll be a working barge moored concrete was not only eight inches thick [rising underneath the bridge so that we can chuck all to ten plus in places] but it was also laid on a the debris in to it and there’ll be a crane to help series of corrugated iron sheets. us load the one ton bags and the RSJs on to it. The tubular hand rail had eight concrete

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Camp report Chelmer & Blackwater posts woven in to it and when we finally got a set of Allen keys off Colin the local, we discovered that about a third of the bolts had been glued with locktite to stop the local low-life from dismantling it. I went to site before lunch so I could do a few hours work with the rest. By lunch the ramp was dug out, with all the soil shovelled into ton bags, which a crane will move into the Essex Waterways barge for use elsewhere on the Navigation. One tree was out, but the second one had one tap root that was a foot across and 6 inches wide, so a tirfor was needed to finish the job. After lunch we started to attempt to break up the concrete cap. Having removed the soil from below it, we leant on it with bars, while Gary hit it with a sledgehammer. Gary won. That bit was moved to one side and broken up, while we tried the same trick with the next section. This proved to be a little bit more stubborn, but gave in by the end of the day. I went back early to start dinner, stoke the fire and put the kettles on. After Sunday roast for dinner, for which James made the Yorkshire puddings, we moved to the next pub down the quay, 100 yards away, to try the beer. Decided it is worth the extra distance for a better selection for beer and we can take the dogs in too. It was St Valentine’s Day but I only got one card, “from a loving stomach, for all my scrummy food!” As Moose and I were sleeping in the saloon, I cooked breakfast, as we had to wake up anyway. Unfortunately we ran out of gas in the middle of cooking it. A couple of calls later, we found the spares and we were away again. This delay meant no second cuppa, as the concrete breaker was being delivered and we had to receive it on site that morning. Also there was a tree growing adjacent to one of the abutments which had to be removed. We started to dig it up. We carried on digging. We dug some more. At a depth of about two metres, Moose gave in and said “shall we try and get a Tirfor?” Colin the local supplied us with the winch

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“Nobody managed to get to the pub after dinner as Moose had worked them too hard and I had overfed them...” that he uses to open the sea-lock gates when the mechanism fails. We borrowed some chains and strops and finally pulled out the tree. Colin the local hired a breaker and Jonathan spent one and a half days breaking out the concrete which the team managed to get mostly in to the underlying barge. Most unusually for an evening camp activity, we had possibly the first Navvies assembly on a Barge, courtesy of John. We did this before dinner to speed it up. After dinner nobody managed to get to the pub as Moose had worked them too hard and I had over fed them. We all stayed in and stoked the fire so the boat had warmed well, assisted by a fan heater at the other end of the corridor. Tuesday morning arrived to the sound of rain on the sheets above. This meant a second cup of tea for the necessary motivation to venture out of the hold. The rain came down for the rest of the morning, but they stuck it out long enough to finish breaking up the concrete cap, so the breaker could go back to the hire company. By Tuesday lunchtime we had just about dismantled the handrail, demolished the decaying brickwork, removed all the concrete and all the earth. During the week so far, we had suffered freezing temperatures, wind, sleet, hail, snow and pouring rain. We were all soaked through and decided to call it a day. The only half day lost due to the weather. As they all returned early, some went to look around Maldon itself, some went to the military museum in the town and some just sat aboard to keep dry. Everyone returned in time for dinner, which included a couple of pancakes each, as it was Shrove Tuesday, then retired to the pub for the evening. Wednesday morning dawned with a hint of sun, and progressed to a glorious day with plenty of winter sun. This meant they all left for site before 9am! As the bridge was exposed, work turned to digging out the other approach ramp, placing faggots at the edge of the canal to lose some of the soil being produced. The dug out ramps also


Martin Ludgate

used up some of the concrete as hardcore. Moose and Gary started to inspect the parapet walls on the off side. But with those two leaning on it, the wall fell over, they were more rotten than was first thought. That afternoon the demolition crew also removed the RSJ’s that spanned the gap. They couldn’t wait for the crane. That night we had curry by popular demand, except for one non curry meal, but it went down well with popadums and nan bread on the side. Once again we frequented the Queen’s Head for the evening, but Gary went to find a pub with football on, only to watch Arsenal lose. Apart from on site problems we had our fair share of accommodation problems too. On Monday morning the gas ran out and breakfast was delayed until we could find and connect the spare bottle. That evening John made us all stuff 1700 envelopes with the latest Navvies edition. Then the electricity failed as the mains cable got crushed between two barges as the tide went out. We realised in the morning that the 240v electric had blown during the night, so we were down to just a few 12v lights. We almost had breakfast cooked by candlelight. The essential stove that we kept burning was not used to being alight for more than two days at a time. Sure enough it became clogged and started to emit clouds and clouds of bitumen flavoured wood smoke which destroyed a night’s sleep for Moose and Maria. Moose extinguished it and despite him being even more grumpy than usual, we all complained about how cold it was in the morning. Apart from breaking the stove, Moose also broke the sea toilet to even more amusement. The other lesson to be learnt: when the tide was in the barge righted itself; when the tide was out the barge settled on the silt and listed to port by about 15 degrees. So when Maria baked one of her delicious cakes, it was imperative to try and get a slice from the port side of the cake tin as this was about an inch thicker than the starboard side. Thursday also brought the rain again, in smaller quantities than Tuesday, so they plugged on all day. On the way to site they drove past the biggest fire that Maldon had seen for years. The police closed the road behind them, which was the start of a 200m exclusion zone around the factory, 200 residents evacuated for the night, and the work site was inside the exclusion zone, so delivery of lunch proved interesting. What would

Breaking out the concrete bridge deck of taken 10 minutes, took 40mins around the detour of the town, then asking the policeman at the far end to be let in to park in a retail park. Thankfully he let me in, so I parked up, donned waterproofs and boots, grabbed lunch and walked down the towpath to the work site. On site that morning they had dug down the side of the walls to expose the brickwork, continued to install faggots and backfill behind them and tidy up spare kit into the barge. After lunch they also put the RSJ’s into the Barge so it could all be taken back that day ready to unload Friday. Colin joined them, as he too could not get to site by road, so went to Heybridge basin and came to the site by boat. The barge went back down to Heybridge in reverse as it was too big to turn around, with Colin’s small boat doing the steering. Back on site we had to remove the four RSJs and the wooden beam. It took us longer than usual to get there because there was a major warehouse fire in Heybridge and half of Maldon was closed to through traffic. When we finally arrived, Moose had another confession

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Camp report Chelmer & Blackwater

time there no smoke, so they left me to tend it or extinguish it as necessary. We later find out the stove normally is only lit for a weekend, so never has a build up of ash in the bottom, which caused our problem. The day started with a little drizzle but turned out to be another day of winter sun. The navvies went to Heybridge to empty the barge of everything that they had thrown in to it over the week, then return it to the remains of Hall Bridge. Then Moose made yet another confession: “you know I said don’t worry about the barge because we won’t have to unload it? Well we’re going to navigate itto the basin and then unload it”. We groaned a bit but Colin the local was such a good bloke we had to do it; and besides, we knew we could use the crane at the lock to unload all the heavy stuff. When we got to the sea lock Moose made his final confession: “see that crane over there? Well it’s bogged down in the mud and we can’t

David Miller

to make: “the crane I promised you to help us load the bags and remove the RSJs is not available so we’ll have to do it manually”. Apparently the low-loader couldn’t get access. No problem. We left the one ton bags on site and Jonathan devised an ingenious plan to man handle all the RSJs off the bridge, down the embankment and on to the barge. They were heavy and awkward but we managed it coolly and calmly. We fenced off the bridge access on both sides and off hired the breaker. Job done with a day to spare. The navvies returned just before the rain turned into hail. That evenings stew was most welcome after a damp day. The pub gained more of our money, but we stayed until closing, then stoked the fire as normal and retired to their cabins. The last bit of wood seemed to make the fire smoke a lot, so Moose decided to stay up until it cleared, then put the coal on for the night. Just as we thought it had cleared, we added the coal. It flared up again, so Moose waited up some more. By 2am I insisted that we gave up and put the stove out, so by 2.30 we finally went to bed. Everybody else slept on with the fog in the boat and the top hatch open to clear the saloon. 5 hours later my alarm went off to get up to do breakfast, this time I was very slow to get up understandably. Nobody had noticed the last night’s activities, but had noticed the fog in the barge. After breakfast Moose cleaned the flue out of soot, while Jonathan shovelled out the bottom of the stove, so the fire could be restarted cautiously. This

“Moose made his final confession: ‘See that crane over there? Well it’s bogged down in the mud so we’ll have to unload the barge manually’ ”

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Taking an RSJ for a walk


David Miller

use it so we’ll have to unload the barge manucups of tea and kept Moose happy. I hope to ally”. see you all at the BCN to suffer my cooking Unload it we did. On both sides of the again. navigation. Corrugated iron, concrete posts, We were so tired that on the final night we lumps of brick and concrete, steel tubes, bits of never made it to the pub. A terrific camp enwood and of course all four RSJs. joyed by all. Fantastic people, extremely hard By the time we had cleaned up the barge, working team, great experience and fearsome re-laid the floor boards, navigated it back to the craic. Never has the slogan “Eat, Sleep Dig” bridge and got back to site in time to repack the been more appropriate to a WRG camp. trailer we were all ready for our fish and chip Maria “The Cook” Alderman supper. Gary “the Accountant” Summers That evening we had Fish and Chips, so I had a night off cooking, and just defrosted Finally, let’s hear from the leader... desserts to go with it. Colin and his wife Margaret joined us for our last night. This This was the hardest camp I have every been led to the traditional prize giving. David got a on or led. It was a very physical camp, which big plaster for his incident with a grinder, I would hope is conveyed in the two camp Tony received his own secateurs to remind reports, I always thought I always get the him of his time making faggots, on this his most out of people (remember St Ives) but first camp. Moose thanked all for their exthis camp surprised even me. Not only did treme hard work, as did Colin on behalf of we break up the concrete capping and reEssex Waterways, and hoped to see some of move the four steel RSJ’s and the wooden us back for the opening ceremony of the new beam that was about 24inches square, yes bridge. After Colin and his wife left, we had slightly knackered but it took an effort to one more cuppa, and eventually decided not make it fall in apart!) but because of our sucto bother with the pub as they were all too cess at doing this we then we had the Friday to tired, and the camp was all in bed by 11pm! empty the barge and to put it back in place for Next morning we had a bit of a lie in, the construction of the new bridge. but we knew that members of the trust had a By Friday evening the pace had taken working party on the barges, so people its toll. I thank all who appeared, for their packed up their kit while I cooked breakfast, contribution to the end result, which was the then all helped tidy Centaur, for which we demolition of the bridge which considering were thanked for leaving it so clean. We all the work was done very safely. said our goodbyes on the quay side and parted A big thanks, to the locals, who put up company. We went to the work site, picked up with us, Colin and Roy plus their other the trailer and went home ourselves. halves. Even though I only managed a few Dave “Moose” Hearnden hours on site, I was kept busy cooking, shopping, doing the accounts, standing in as acting assistant as Alan Wiffen had to bow out unfortunately, chief fire stoker, keeping the accommodation ship shape and writing this camp report. Finally I would like to say thank you to a fine bunch of Navvies, that worked like a well oiled machine, that achieved more than was expected, ate everything I cooked, washed up without too much moaning at each other, or moaning about themselves(you know who The demolition materials are taken to Haybridge by barge you are), made me lots of

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WRG at 40 Forty views for forty years

Part two of a series celebrating WRG’s 40th birthday by capturing the views of various people who have been involved

40 Views for 40 Years The second in a series of articles to celebrate WRG’s 40th birthday by capturing the views of various people who have been involved in various capacities. Now over to a couple who were incredibly active in the early days and have lots of stories to tell: Mike and Megan Day.

Q: When did you first get involved with canal restoration? A: Following on from boating, it was 1969 when Eric McDowell, who was also involved in boating with a

Helen Gardner

local authority, (in his case he was living in Hemel Hempstead, and our borough helped Hemel Hempstead get started with their narrow boat project) and we took their mayor out on our boat. So having met Eric and he came out with us and did lots of boating up and down the Grand Union. He said I’ve started going to these working parties and they’re great fun and you ought to come along. So that’s what we did. It was a time when the Upper Avon was just starting when we were trying to do something about the Marple flight, which of course was shut at that time, the whole of the Cheshire Ring was shut. Operation Ashton had just happened and Ashtac – which was 1972, was still in the future at that point. But that was a very different thing, over that ‘69 to ‘72 was the whole range from totally alienated local authorities in the North but local authorities getting interested in the south, hence the narrowboat stuff and by 1972 even Droylsden was interested in doing something with their canal which was real news. Very luckily we were at a very formative time when we started off.

Q: What was your main motivation? A: What I do is make things, I was a craft teacher for donkeys years, I don’t care what I make as long as I make something. Making locks or canals it’s all grist to the mill, big things and large things or even small things. These days I do model railways.

Q: Why did you keep coming back once you’d got started? A: People – largely people. At that time it was all very much a baptism of fire – we were almost literally fire fighting. As I said in the article in Navvies you could find a bywash on the Stratford on Avon falls in; you need somebody now to go and dig it out or else you’ve got flooding problems; you’ve got a canal which no longer works. And local authorities in particular are going to say “oh restoring canals doesn’t work”. You’ve got to do it properly or not do it at all. So we were largely involved in that sort of thing but of course one of the first working parties we went onto was Welshpool which was very much ‘they’re going to build a road on the bed of this canal irrespective of whether it’s suitable’. We managed to raise enough people to go somewhere as remote as Welshpool and do something about it.

Q: Who were your friends from that time? A: [WRG Founder] Graham Palmer – obviously – we got to know Graham very early and very well and we almost instantly started helping him with the production of Navvies. Actually he was sinking – people used to think he worked full time on the waterways but he didn’t – he had a full time job elsewhere. We used to go across on weekday evenings and I’d be assembling bits and pieces of Navvies - those days it was

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literally cut and paste. And Megan was typing it or typing his correspondence because she was a shorthand typist/secretary and frequently took away a load of shorthand notes and went back home and did letters for him. So we were very involved almost straight away. [Graham] was an excellent artist: all the little line drawings on the front of early Navvies are all his drawings. I must admit I didn’t find that out for sometime because he denied it! Other people there - Tim and John Dodwell. Tim Dodwell was the working party leader for London at the time. John and Graham had spent many months going up and down to work on the Stourbridge flight. John became general secretary of IWA. A little bit later John Felix came into the picture who ran the sales side. A little bit later than that was Colin Butler who unfortunately is now dead. John Cadish who was about 50 or so – very very quiet bookish man who was the book keeper for Cadish and Company who sold mesh, plastic and steel and aluminium – all sorts of meshes and we used to use their factory to assemble Navvies. Front cover of Navvies 69 is a picture of a man covered in mud from head to foot that was Andy Millward who was a boater actually I don’t know where he came from but he got stuck in now and again. Jim Woolgar and Jim Fleming who were both stalwarts of the London Working Party Group. Jim Woolgar ran the WRG stores so he was buying in duffle coats and donkey coats and boots and all which were not easily available. You can’t imagine it now – you couldn’t buy it then. B&Q didn’t exist or anything like that. Those sort of suppliers were only really interested in large scale things. So we used to buy from SGB for instance, the scaffolding people – that worked extremely well. We had a great camaraderie amongst these early groups, particularly because of the difficulty of doing it. You couldn’t jump in a car and 2 hours later end up in Stratford-Upon-Avon – there was no M40, there was no M25, the M1 didn’t go anywhere – it stopped in middle of the countryside. If you wanted to go to Manchester there was no point in going up any motorway – there wasn’t one. So we went to Manchester by going up as far as Derby on the M1 and then using the A6 – I mean have you used the A6?!! [discussion on trials of A6...] When you leave work at 5pm on a Friday night and drive to Manchester to work on a canal in the morning – particularly if you’re driving a WRG van.

Q: Were there any people in particular that inspired you? A: Well Graham particularly because he was a born leader, he was one of these people who you like him or loathe him – people followed him anyway.

Q: What do you remember about the formal forming of WRG? A: WRG didn’t exist when we started. The London Working Party Group was by far the largest group

Harry Arnold

around. There were these sort of centres of activity all of whom were running working parties and Graham’s idea was to try and weld them together: if you’ve got some spare labour you can go and help somebody else. The London group because we were putting out 30/35 people at a time, every time, every month, we were surely candidates for doing that. But it doesn’t just happen by writing in a magazine so what you do is to go and see people. Now Graham didn’t drive, so I drove (or latterly Colin [Butler] drove or John [Dodwell] or half a dozen other people). Once it starts it’s quite easy to push it further forward but getting that started takes a man with charisma and that’s what Graham did. I went to the Guildford National Rally with a friend on a boat (Megan joined me later) and we walked along to see this huge structure being put up with ‘Waterway Recovery Group’ written all over it. It just sort of happened - Graham stood there in middle looking worried and he said “well we’re just sort of starting this thing”. Various members of IWA came over and said “what’s all this about Graham? – what’s all this about?” What it was all about of course was trying to get IWA to do what it said. Do you remember on the front of Navvies? It used to say ‘Navvies’ and at the bottom ‘Restoration and Development’. It’s a direct quote from the aims of the IWA and the IWA didn’t want to know anything about development. The whole point of WRG as far as we were concerned: restoration yes and development as well. It was very, very Heath Robinson, even I who knew nothing about scaffolding at the time thought that the scaffolding was put up particularly badly but at least it stood up – it had a big sign on it “A born leader” - Graham Palmer

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saying ‘Waterway Recovery Group’. From there on we were pushing ever outwards to join up all these little working party groups into something rather bigger. It wasn’t us but it people outside who started calling it ‘werg’. You get this idea of ‘WRG Stores’, ‘WRG Brass’, ‘WRG Print’ and the colour red and it worked. A corporate image is very powerful and not a lot of people were doing corporate images in those days so Graham was very forward moving with his thinking.

Q: You mentioned the first WRG van? A: Tom Henshaw, with his brother, ran a garage just outside Burton-on-Trent. They obviously got old vehicles in, which they passed out through the trade, they had a big repair business. We were talking about we need a van really, we just cannot carry all these shovels in cars. Lots of people didn’t have cars they were sharing cars to try and get to working parties – some people even went by train. Tom said Oh I’ve got an old Dormobile in – it’s old and it won’t go very fast but it’ll do a turn. So I jumped on a train, Tom picked me up from the station and I got this van and I drove it back. It was going to Graham’s so I was moving it to Finchley and about half a mile away from his flat it ran out of petrol – it still said a quarter full. We used it quite a lot. At a time when we were shifting gear round the countryside we put a Johnson sludge pump in the back of it to move it from Hutch’s at Harvington down to London to get it serviced and get it working again. When you put it in the back of a Dormobile it filled it – it also weighed about 9cwt and then we had to drive up Edge Hill – Edge Hill is about 1 in 6 and long with a switch back and a couple of bends in it – we sat and listened to the engine boiling at the top.

Q: You’ve talked about the Stratford and Marple – what other projects did you work on? A: Obviously Welshpool – when the Welshpool Big Dig was finished, which led to the Prince of Wales section, it still left us with the lock at Welshpool which had no top gates – they were cast iron top gates which had been nicked many years before and gone to Stoke Bruerne – think they’re still there. Through the offices of some good BWB people, who we were getting to know quite well, we got a new top gate but it was a Trent and Mersey top gate which was tapered, so the geometry of it was a little bit difficult, plus the fact there was no forebay at all – it had all been ripped out there was nothing there. Jim Evans designed a concrete forebay that we could build up ourselves and a way of putting this gate in. We got involved in rallies as well – initially it was the River Nene rally at Northampton because the whole of the Rothersthorpe flight was under threat, as was navigation on the River Nene anyway. Graham was allegedly the site man, with lots of local help of course, but in fact he was working all the time and I was at college, learning to be a teacher, and so in fact ended up doing it, and for the second one [rally] I did it all. I was also the site man for Titford Pools Rally.

Q: What was WRG not quite so good at? A: I do have to question direction – why are you restoring something? Why are you putting the effort into it? It’s very difficult; do you go with this shortlist idea when you end up arguing forever on the merits of one canal over another? – I’m not sure there’s a lot of mileage in that. But you do have to subtly load the dice in favour of some more important places against some less important places. But on less important places is you need to effort in to preserve the track. This is a comment I’ll make about Navvies - we always used to put in: Where the hell is it? Where’s it going to and what’s wrong with it – and we always put maps in – of varying quality but nevertheless we then knew what we were talking about. [I’ll see what we can do. ...Ed] I’m not at all convinced that having followed our example and looked after a national rally why we’re still looking after national rallies every year – there’s an expectation that WRG will pluck the irons from the fire. We only plucked from the fire because the whole thing was falling apart before – we didn’t want to go and run a national rally.

Q: What is your classic ‘do you remember the time when’ story?: A: [Megan]: I do remember arriving at a village hall, probably January, and seeing a couple of blokes standing on a couple of lads, standing on chairs with blow torches defrosting the frozen pipes. [Mike]: we had to discover where the water was - they made a pyramid of tool boxes to climb through the loft hatch – that was Palmer – not Mike - John [Mike’s brother]. There were lots of nicknames mainly because Graham couldn’t remember anybody’s name. He [John Bayliss] became Bogs Bayliss because when we were working on one of those landing stages at Titford and at the top of the hill there was a hard standing where the bogs were going to come in. They suddenly all came in and John (was doing the connecting up) said ‘ooh – me bogs have come’. And he went off up the hill he

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had one squeaky shoe and it was ‘bogs squeak bogs squeak’.

Q: What would you say WRG’s greatest achievement was? Possibly surviving. [IWA Founder Robert] Aickman used to say that any voluntary organisation’s got a shelf life of about 21 years – after that the whole thing falls apart. Q: What would you say WRG was good at? A: [Mike]: I guess it’s still good at keeping people together. [Megan]: it was a trigger – it really came from Graham – it was exciting – he was exciting. To me it has always been the people. I’m not built (and never was) for discomfort and sleeping on floors but I did it because it was exciting. We’d drive for 5 hours and it’d be hysterically funny. There was a huge amount of fantastic people; lots of chat; lots of beer and as a social life it was wonderful. A lot of that stemmed from Graham, who I adored, and was one of the most charismatic people I have ever met. [Mike]: like all charismatic people he had feet of clay; he could start things; he couldn’t run them. So we ended up rushing round after him trying to make sure things kept going because he was off doing something else by then. He was a great guy. It was quite curious how kids who would come along would be attracted towards Graham, and county councillors would be attracted towards Graham and people from the IWA and everybody. No doubt there were a few that absolutely hated him. It started and kept going because of him. He obviously made some pretty firm foundations otherwise it wouldn’t be there now. And now on to Harry Arnold – a pretty famous name amongst waterways publications and photography – but what exactly was his involvement with the Waterway Recovery Group? The interview didn’t quite start as planned (you’ll notice the lack of questions I had to ask to get things flowing!!) and the gist of it is that Harry left the army and hired a boat for a holiday and ended up fairly quickly with a business on the canals...

Martin Ludgate

By 1960 I was involved with canals and by ’61 I was involved in IWA and also the Inland Waterway Protection Society, and I was going to meetings in Manchester – it was the nearest place that had meetings there. It was Cyril Boucher who really got me enthused about waterways. I met all these people, I didn’t realise that later they would become friends and stay at our house. I was involved with the campaign for the Marple Aqueduct through the Inland Waterway Protection Society. We remained running this wharf/boating business and still involved in campaigning around Manchester and Liverpool. Then I got the chance to go onto canals full time as the other half of a new business at Norbury Junction (Shropshire Union Cruisers). When I got there I joined the Shrewsbury and Newport Canals Association, which seemed a logical thing to do, and became the first editor of Cuttings. By this time I had probably met Graham Palmer somewhere, but we’d not got to know each other – but we knew about each other. I think Navvies had started by then, I’d get copies of Navvies and he’d get copies of Cuttings. We gave up trying to restore the Shrewsbury & Newport canal and we formed the Shropshire Union Canal Society. However, Piggy [Graham] turned up at Norbury and hired a boat from us – we just got on like a house on fire from then on – he turned up and he got me involved. Also by that time I was elected to the north-west branch committee of IWA. There are pictures of me digging, but I mainly finished up being used by Graham to create publicity. Professionally by this time I’d been offered a partnership in Swanline Cruisers, which is why I live here at Fradley Junction. I resigned from the north-west branch committee of IWA and I said I’d have nothing to do with voluntary work (except Graham badgering me to do this, do this on the phone). A guy walked into the shop at Swanline, Roy Torrington, and said ‘you’re Harry Arnold aren’t you?’ ‘Midland branch committee meets on Thursday night – be there’. When WRG was formed as an entity my major contribution was one night, (he’d used to ring you, you’d be in bed and the phone would ring. It would be Graham and he’d pick up a conversation that he’d started 3 days ago. ) And he rang me up and said “what shall we call it: Waterways Recovery Group – or Waterway Recovery Group?” and I said “it’s a double plural it sounds to me if you call it waterways” – so

page 19


I’m responsible – and everyone’s been sticking an ‘s’ on ever since. I was mainly involved in publications for WRG, publicity and so on. By the time Ashtac arrived I was freelancing, I’d decided to come out of the boat business and write about it. Of course because I was freelancing I was the one with time to do this and that. My major contribution has been taking pictures – they used to call me Flash in the early days. By 1970 I was trying to be a journalist, there were no waterways magazines and I worked for Motorboat and Yachting, again, built up a series of contacts including Bob Shopland who was my partner in Waterways World - we started that. Now when we started Waterways World in 1973, Graham was heavily involved. He was not part of the company but he was heavily involved. His job as office manager of National Insurance and Guarantees Corporation – you’d be surprised what furniture came out – we paid for it, but surplus furniture helped with Waterways World. WRG were one of the first people to use golf ball typewriters – they surreptitiously came out of National Insurance and Guarantees Corporation – we all had contacts. Graham could be an irritating bugger – he smoked profusely and he used to get me involved with things which used to totally exasperate Beryl [Harry’s wife]. We’d appear off the train from London, been drinking in the bar and drinking cans of McEwans and we’d fall out at Lichfield station - he used to stay on our settee. He was a genius, in my opinion, the most unsung. We appreciate the fact that the Graham Palmer Lock is an irritating little lock – he would have loved that. He could be desperately irritating. WRG had a badge making machine for years – you know you see tin badges at rallies – he had a badge made saying ‘Politics Politics’. To see him in his office guise, in suits and then to see him in his scruffy with bobble hat – when people saw him in this scruffy guise they thought who’s this scruffy bugger? But he was a brilliant negotiator with authority, often on work parties he and I would be talking to someone who was visiting and when the rest would ask what we were doing, Graham would say ‘Politics politics’. Edie – his mother – was an amazing contribution to WRG because she used to run round and look after him. She looked after Navvies subscriptions for years and stuff like that. When he died I was the last person to bring him out of hospital. By this time he was living back in Oswestry – he left National Insurance and Guarantees [to work for an electronics company]. They moved lock, stock and barrel with Edie. The company went belly up but they gave him his old job back. Then his heart was getting really bad, he was down for a heart transplant. He was very ill in Shrewsbury Hospital and I picked him up and we called for a drink on the way back to Oswestry – he looked dreadful. This was about a Friday and then Edie rang me saying that he’d just died. He was involved in the Montgomery right until the last minute. I was one of the founders of the Montgomery Campaign (through the Shropshire Union Canal Society), and then we had Welshpool Lock of course. Slightly pre-WRG we had the Big Dig and we brought Graham in through my contacts to organise it. Then WRG formally came in and then we decided to tackle Welshpool Lock – that was a WRG job. Then the IWA decided that they would fund the 4 mile to Queens Head – because the actual bed was too big (it was a contractor’s job eventually) we concentrated on Frankton Locks. WRG NW were down there every fortnight - that’s when we all worked very closely together. We did get involved in Nationals, before it became a formal camp WRG people did get involved in organising Nationals. We used to sleep in the trade exhibition, before those formal WRG tents. Listers who were big supporters then, they were the key engine company on the canals then, they used to have the nicest stand and it had carpets - so we always used to sleep on the Lister stand. Graham never wanted to be part of IWA but when VAT came in, that was the killer, well a good thing really. We found that through IWA we could get VAT formalities and all that. That’s when WRG had to become formalised – you know there’s no membership, it’s still the same, you just subscribe to Navvies. But that’s when we had to have a formal board and of course I was just one of the first board members and I was already heavily involved in IWA anyway.

Q: Jumping back to 1970 – what did you see were the reasons WRG was formed? A: Because Graham wanted a national co-ordinating organisation. We could see, through Navvies, this communication where volunteers could find out what was going on, we then felt we could improve on that by all working together. We needed an organisation that had access to machinery. Graham developed a close relationship with a bloke – I don’t know what he was called - Mr Smalley - I can’t remember, but we borrowed their machines regularly. That was the sort of thing WRG could do nationally. Graham saw that it would be great if there was an organisation local societies could come to and say ‘how do we do this?’ A pool of knowledge; a pool of access to machinery; a pool of access to money, but that was the whole idea of it. The whole red shirt thing came about because we scrounged post office vans. I’ve forgotten his name,

page 20


lived in Gloucester, and he worked for the post office and the first vehicles we had were ex-post office – so they were red – so we kept them. Everyone had a nickname, if you look at the early Navvies, everyone outside was given a nickname, like Bob Cotton who was known as Rotten Cotton – which was obvious. In Navvies, at Christmas, there’d be Christmas greetings to Rotten Cotton – if you get a disk, look on the back there’d be the Christmas greetings. Most people had a nickname – it was a great honour.

Q: How did WRG Change after Graham died? A: The spirit I don’t think has changed at all, it’s just that new people came in. When I first worked with Mike Palmer he was this big [indicates size of small person] driving a dinghy. I’ve got the photo – he hates it when you produce it. I worked with his dad on all the IWA connections, John Palmer senior was publicist in Manchester, there used to be a Manchester Boat Show and he used to do the publicity for it and I did the photographs. Of course then John Junior and Mike: they just were... “this is it – this is what you do – you get involved”. And new people came in – it’s really changed. I’m pleased that such an organisation has come out of all of this – I wouldn’t criticise WRG at all. We always got on really well with the lads on the line. On the Montgomery once we paid for a piss-up for the British Waterways lads, at Four Crosses. We all went and were drinking – they ended up fighting amongst themselves!

Q: What would you say WRG’s greatest achievement was? A: Physically the two work parties on the Ashton (Operation Ashton and Ashtac) in bringing the fact that volunteers could do this. And then getting into really physical jobs later on like rebuilding Frankton Locks and of course the biggest job was Aston Nature Reserve. But WRG’s biggest achievement is bringing all this together – it’s exactly what we and Graham wanted to be – a national co-ordinating body.

Q: What is your favourite derelict canal and why? A: It’s got to be the Montgomery because I’ve been involved with it for so long. Q: What’s so special about it? A: One of my mentors was a man called Jack Roberts who was an ex Shropshire Union flyboat man, he always said “The Shropshire Union system is the best canal system in the country and the Montgomery is the best of all”. Before any work we ever did on the Montgomery he predicted the Montgomery would be open. I love that area of the country.

Martin Ludgate

Q: Where do you see WRG’s future then? A: Now British Waterways are looking to this third way – it’s difficult. I don’t know, but we’re going to have to work – we probably will finish up working closely, physically with British Waterways men. They are going to have to realise (which they don’t) the various skills we have in everything, from design, planning, surveying and actually digging holes. I think Favourite canal: the Montgomery at Carreghofa we’re going to have to go further into health and safety and so on. The Railway Societies have their own trained Health and Safety people that co-ordinate volunteers and I think we’re going to have to do more of this. I think WRG has a big part to play in this third way. I hope you’re enjoying reading these – I’m enjoying conducting the interviews. As always suggestions and comments are very welcome. Next time we are going to cover some more recent memories and maybe even get a female slant on things. Helen Gardner

page 21


Navvies diary Your guide to all the forthcoming work parties Apr 17/18

London WRG

B.C.N. Cleanup: Centrally booked via head office

Apr 17/18

wrgBITM

Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation: Bank repairs.

Apr 24/25

WRG

PAT (Portable Appliance Testing) weekend: Testing all the cables and conn

Apr 25 Sun EAWA/NWDCT North Walsham & Dilham Canal: Honing / Staithe Cut May 1/2/3

wrgNW

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 1-3

wrgSW

To be arranged, maybe Mon & Brec Canal

May 1/2/3

KESCRG

Wendover Arm: Pouring concrete base for mooring wall, and assemblin

May 1/2/3

wrgBITM

Canalway Cavalcade, Little Venice: BITM Sales Stall

May 8 Sat

wrgNW

‘Paper Chase’ waste paper collection

May 9 Sun

EAWA/NWDCT North Walsham & Dilham Canal: Bacton Lock

May 15 Sat

WRG

Leaders Training Day: NOTE NEW DATE. Canal camp and work party le

May 14/15/16 wrgBITM

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

May 15/16

Thames & Severn Canal: Eisey Lock. Dig Deep project

NWPG

May 16 Sun WRG

Committee & Board Meetings: Venue: Fillongley.

May 22/23

wrgNW

Manchester, Bolton & Bury Canal

May 22/23

London WRG

To be arranged (maybe Lichfield?): NOTE date changed from May 15/1

May 23 Sun EAWA/NWDCT North Walsham & Dilham Canal: Bacton Lock May 29-31

wrgSW

To be arranged, maybe Cotswolds (Gough’s Orchard)

May 29-31

wrgNW

Mon & Brec (National Trail-Boat Festival): Sales Stand

Jun 5/6

Essex WRG

Wilts & Berks Canal

Jun 6 Sun

EAWA/NWDCT North Walsham & Dilham Canal: Briggate

Jun 12 Sat

wrgNW

‘Paper Chase’ waste paper collection

Jun 12/13

WRG

NOTE: WRG Training Weekend has been moved from this weekend to

Jun 18-20

wrgNW

Middlewich Folk & Boat Festival: Sales Stand

Jun 19/20

KESCRG

To be arranged (maybe Basingstoke?): Note new provisional date.

Jun 19/20

London WRG

Thames & Severn Canal: Goughs Orchard Lock. Joint dig with wrg SW NOTE date changed from Jun 12/13.

Jun 19/20

wrgBITM

Thames & Severn Canal: Eisey Lock. Dig Deep project

Jun 20 Sun EAWA/NWDCT North Walsham & Dilham Canal: Ebridge Jun 26/27

NWPG

Thames & Severn Canal: Eisey Lock. Dig Deep project

Jun 26-Jul 3 Camp 201003

Cotswolds (Goughs Orchard Lock): Rebuilding lock walls, coping stone

Jun 26-Jul 3 Camp 201004

Montgomery Canal: Reconstructing stone wall, concrete foundations, tr

Jul 3/4

To be arranged: Probably Stockport Canal (or MB&B a week earlier)

page 22

wrgNW


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

nectors for festivals

Aileen Butler

07703-567764

enquiries@wrg.org.uk

Dave Wedd

01252-874437

bookings@wrgBITM.org.uk

George ‘Bungle’ Eycott 07771-775745

bungle@wrg.org.uk

David Revill

01603-738648

davgis@live.co.uk

David McCarthy

0161-740-2179

nw@wrg.org.uk

John Gale

01376-334896

essex@wrg.org.uk

Harri Barnes

07745-752045

harri_thomsett@hotmail.com

Eddie Jones

0845-226-8589

eddie@kescrg.org.uk

Dave Wedd

01252-874437

bookings@wrgBITM.org.uk

David McCarthy

0161-740-2179

David Revill

01603-738648

davgis@live.co.uk

Helen Gardner

07989 425346

helen_gardner@hotmailcom

Dave Wedd

01252-874437

bookings@wrgBITM.org.uk

Bill Nicholson

01844-343369

bill@nwpg.org.uk

Mike Palmer

01564-785293

mike.palmer@wrg.org.uk

David McCarthy

0161-740-2179

nw@wrg.org.uk

Tim Lewis

07802-518094

london@wrg.org.uk

David Revill

01603-738648

davgis@live.co.uk

Harri Barnes

07745-752045

harri_thomsett@hotmail.com

David McCarthy

0161-740-2179

nw@wrg.org.uk

John Gale

01376-334896

essex@wrg.org.uk

David Revill

01603-738648

davgis@live.co.uk

David McCarthy

0161-740-2179

Jenny Black

01494-783453

training@wrg.org.uk

David McCarthy

0161-740-2179

nw@wrg.org.uk

Eddie Jones

0845-226-8589

eddie@kescrg.org.uk

Tim Lewis

07802-518094

london@wrg.org.uk

Dave Wedd

01252-874437

bookings@wrgBITM.org.uk

David Revill

01603-738648

davgis@live.co.uk

Bill Nicholson

01844-343369

bill@nwpg.org.uk

es, replace bywash.

01494-783453

enquiries@wrg.org.uk

ransplanting vegetation. Leader: Lou Kellett

01494-783453

enquiries@wrg.org.uk

0161-740-2179

nw@wrg.org.uk

Trailboat Rally

ng shuttering.

eaders training Sat & Sun

16

3 July

David McCarthy

page 23


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 Last weekend 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

BCNS BCS BCT ChCT C&BN DCT EAWA ECPDA FIPT GCRS GWCT H&GCT H&GCT H&GCT H&GCT IWPS LCT LHCRT LHCRT MBBCS NWDCT PCAS RGT SCARS SCCS SHCS SCS SNT SUCS TMCA WACT WACT WACT WACT WACT WACT WACT WAT WAT WBCT

page 24

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 Creams Paper Mill 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

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

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

LCT LHCRT MBBCS NWPG NWDCT PCAS RGT SCARS SCCS SHCS SCS SNT SUCS TMCA WACT WAT WBCT

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 Steve Dent 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 07802-973228 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 Manchester Bolton & Bury Canal Society 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


In which a couple of old hands attempt to make Tring Scout Hut look positively luxurious by comparison... Our online survey: ‘what’s the best and worst accommodation you’ve ever stayed in on a canal work party’ has inspired some correspondence... Dear Editor Re: Worst Accommodation Oh dear, reading the latest Navvies, who forgot the cow sheds at Seend? Or are the average readers too young? Let’s get the brain into reverse... I reckon it was early summer 1970, just before WRG became official, there was to be a working party on the Kennet & Avon Canal at Seend, with accommodation at the nearby farm. The job was to ‘tart up’ a farm track bridge. The local man left us some paint and brushes, but first we attacked the saplings and brambles growing out of the brickwork. One problem was that instead of the estimated 10 or 12 bodies we’d been expecting, it was nearer 20-30. Before he disappeared for the rest of the weekend the local contact said, “The farmer has got the accommodation sorted.” So mid-afternoon Graham Palmer, myself and a couple of others went up to see the farmer, who just about remembered the earlier request. He showed us the shed he thought we could sleep in. He had taken some calves to market earlier that week, so there was space in the calf shed. It was warm, there was straw, plus muck, on the floor and the rest of the calves were up the other end. He must have seen our faces. OK, says he, I use the old granary as a fertiliser store, have a look at that. Somewhat better. Piled high with sacks of various fertilisers, which we rearranged to make floor space. He parted with the remark “Water’s in the yard”. So it was — in a cattle trough. Toilets..? Showers..? So work was finished and every on got to the “accommodation”. Just one thing:

Letters to the editor Food? Kitchen? Even no Claire! This started panic mode. Fortunately, a good while later, Claire arrived with gas cooker and prefabricated stew. The next day more bridges were painted and lots of towpath was jungle bashed. Somewhere there used to be a Ros Smallwood sketch of sleeping navvies, by moonlight, surrounded by cows. Now those were the days Jim Woolgar Dear Editor Regarding the worst acccommodation, my worst experience was on an ‘away’ weekend dig to a railway in South Wales. Having stopped off at a pub on the way down, we arrived very late to find the Village Hall where we were supposed to stay locked, the caretaker’s house in darkness and the promised alternative accommodation, the ‘passenger fruit van’ in the station siding, also locked. We ended up sleeping on the bare ground, 4 sleeping bags in a line, huddling under a polythene sheet which happened to be in the back of the car. And we were woken up very early the next morning by rain! David Mack OK folks, it’s a while since we did the ‘worst accommodation stories’ thing in Navvies, so if anyone else has any tales from long ago which we haven’t already published about rat-infested dumps that you’ve been expected to kip in while taking part in canal restoration working parties, please send them in. Also if by any chance anyone can track down a copy of the sketch by Ros Smallwood that Jim Woolgar refers to in his letter above, please get in touch and we’ll publish it in the next issue. And finally, don’t forget to fill in the latest online survey - see the Noticeboard on page 37 for details. ...Ed

page 25


Letters

Eddie Jones - who could forget him? The answer to that question appears to be “Navvies could”...

to the editor

Martin Ludgate

Martin Ludgate

Dear Martin I have just read the report for the first time on the Christmas Party Dig jointly run by KESCRG, LWRG and SW. It seems it has a nice mixture of information and humour about what happened and who did what, even who wore which costumes. But while there are at least three mentions of Bungle’s sterling efforts in the kitchen, even Eli’s lovely bread (which knowing Eli’s cooking would have deserved mention) and also Mel’s able assistance, some ingredient is still missing. Helen and Suzie get a mention for breakfast which I’m sure was lovely, the leaders are deservedly thanked, I think I even get points for turning up (even though I was ill) for which I thank you (I thought I was better but soon realised I wasn’t) but I was bringing the beer and would have been lynched if I hadn’t come! Even the dogs & babies get a mention - so applause all round, and very well deserved - hang on, except it wasn’t applause all round! I am sure it wasn’t deliberate (well I would certainly hope not) but I believe everyone there would have noticed a jolly bearded chap in the kitchen slaving equally hard over the stoves with Bungle, who I believe also would have given up a lot of his personal time planning and running around shops as would anyone who was JOINT COOK with Bungle. I would imagine if that were me I would be thoroughly pissed off at the total lack of a mention for my hard work and think to myself “how jolly rude” or something similar; I seem to Eddie juggles parental duties with joining remember the same thing happened last year too Bungle and Eli on the catering team but please don’t quote me on that. I know writing a report is not easy to get right and not everyone will like everyone else’s style and I can’t talk as I have not written one (although my dog has!) But, even though I unfortunately missed most of it from being tucked out of harms way, my hat very much goes off to everyone who helped make the Christmas Party an enjoyable event, either in key roles or in assistance and support but especially to Bungle AND Eddie as joint cooks. Nic Bennett

page 26


What’s the connection between pillows, knickers and dignity?

The Survey What have you left behind?

What’s the most disastrous item you’ve forgotten to take on a dig? Items left behind when people go digging range from practical items like essential clothing and bedding to the metaphysical concept of ‘my dignity’. See what people claim to have forgotten to bring on a dig...

9%

9%

18%

18%

9%

(OK actually we don’t think that’s quite what they meant but what the hell else do you illustrate it with?)

36%

Next time round we’re asking you what the best and worst jobs are on-site. So if you have a particular passion for barrowing concrete, or just want to grumble about brick cleaning, now’s your chance.

Just visit http://tiny.cc/WRGjobs page 27


Progress

Our regular roundup of progress on restoration projects begins with the River Gipping in Suffolk also known as the Ipswich & Stowmarket Navigation

Suffolk, Sussex, Stover... River Gipping

taking out all the old concrete that was tipped in when they rebuilt the bridge. We want to see the whole area returned to its original state so that people can once again use it as a place to relax.

On the 29th September the River Gipping Trust started clearance work on the island site opposite Hawks Mill in Needham Market. Not many years ago this area was seen as an oasis of tranquillity, (Great Eastern Railway excepted!) used by residents of Needham Market and surrounding areas to enjoy a quiet time by the river or by photographers taking wedding photos. It has since become an overgrown jungle and the Trust were determined to do something about it. We had a lot of encouragement from residents and lots of support from Needham Town Council and Mid Suffolk District Council. Creeting St Mary council were also very helpful. In fact MSDC provided us with a chipper and two operators for the The site at Hawks Mill before work started (above) day. We still don’t know who owns and with clearance under way (below) the area and this fact was holding up work, but having sought advice from the MSDC Tree Officer and agreement from the Planning Officer we were ready to go. It is clear from the photos just how much work was needed, but I think the results of our work speak for themselves. This isn’t the end of our work at Hawks Mill. We now need to repair the seating, dispose of the pile of willow cuttings and then clean up the river itself by

page 28


Stover Canal The trustees of the Stover Canal Trust are pleased to announce that after ten years of negotiations between Network Rail, Teignbridge District Council and the Stover Canal Trust a 30 year lease for the Stover Canal has been agreed, signed by all parties on 25th February 2010 and completed. The Stover Canal Society was formed in 1999 and is dedicated to the preservation and restoration of the Stover Canal in Devon, England. Built in the 18th Century, the canal was used to transport clay and other minerals from the Bovey Basin and granite from quarries on Dartmoor to the docks at Teignmouth for nearly 150 years. The canal was built by James Templer of Stover House between 1790 and 1792 to serve the ball clay industry in the area. It runs for 2 miles from Ventiford Basin near Teigngrace to Jetty Marsh on the outskirts of Newton Abbot. From there, barges would follow the tidal Whitelake Channel, then the River Teign to Teignmouth docks, a further 5 miles, where the cargo was transhipped to seagoing coasters. Around 1820 James Templer’s son, George, built the unique Haytor Granite Tramway which carried granite mined on Dartmoor down to the canal basin at Ventiford, on carts running on granite rails mined from the same source. Haytor granite was most notably used in the construction of

London Bridge, the British Museum and the National Gallery. The granite trade was short lived, lasting less than 40 years but the canal continued to serve the ball clay industry until 1937. With no other traffic using the canal abandonment followed, the decline of the canal being hastened by a breach in 1951. Today the canal lies derelict.

Sussex Ouse

Following a successful 2009 when all targets in the restoration of the lock at Isfield were met and surpassed the Sussex Ouse Restoration Trust are now concentrating their minds on the work ahead for the summer of 2010. With the restoration of the east wall complete, work will begin on the west wall as soon as weather and ground conditions allow site access for the working parties, materials and equipment. As previously reported, the challenges awaiting the Trust in 2010 go far beyond those met to date but project manager, Paul Morris and his small team of volunteers are confident these challenges can be met. Before work can begin, however, the security fencing has to be re-arranged and the enclosure enlarged to allow for storage of the additional materials and equipment that will be required during the summer. Plans are in place for the Trust to purchase their own dumper. This will allow the work parties to be at the site when they are able, rather than when the rental of what will be such Former Granite The Stover Canal an important item of maTramway to Haytor chinery can be organised. Although the year ahead will present much hard labour, and no doubt Ventiford Basin many physical and technical challenges, the Trust is Teigngrace confident that with the Graving Lock 5 support of its regular Dock Lock 4 group of volunteers, and Teignbridge anyone else who is able to Stover Kingsteignton Lock 3 Canal help, 2010 will be another Hackney successful year. To Canal Te If you can help in any Jetty Marsh Locks 1-2 way please contact volun(staircase) Teign estuary teer co-ordinator Ted NEWTON Lintott on e-mail at ABBOT 0 1 tedl@talktalk.net or by telephone on 01444 414413. MILES Terry Owen

N

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Progress Sleaford, W&A, Lichfield Sleaford Navigation

Meanwhile out east in Lincolnshire, a new liftbridge on the Sleaford Navigation opens for the first time new liftbridge installed over the navigation in Sleaford, the hydraulic operating gear was fitted. A small party went over to try out the bridge and to see how it operated. Operation by windlass was quite easy although the bridge was slightly harder to raise than to lower. This situation we understand will be remedied by the addition of a small extra counter weight. In all the bridge was raised and lowered three times. The photo shows the Chairman, Chris Hayes, exercising her prerogative and windlass! Steve Hayes

The November work party saw the final touches put to the works at Bottom Lock. Ever since last year it had been our intention to install quadrants to make pushing the gates easier and, incidentally, to improve the overall appearance of the lock. A great deal of the work had been completed during the October work party. A small, but select, group assembled at Bottom Lock on the Sunday morning in November and got all the equipment and materials into the right place. This involved moving everything over the sluices, the lock island and the bridge over the lock! After the preparation work in October all that remained was to mix a large quantity of concrete to fill in the excavated area and then carefully set in the cobbles at regular intervals. Sounds simple but it did involve a lot of barrowing! The site was tidied up and we then went to Cogglesford Lock to assess the jobs for the December work party. The December work party was very well attended with quite a few new people there which is always good. One of the tasks was to replace the wooden fencing at Cogglesford Lock in Sleaford. Some local undesirables had stolen a Above: the bridge opens. Below: the lock quadrant scooter a month or two ago, lent it against the fence and set fire to it. This didn’t do the fence much good and made a mess of the scooter. Maybe one thing to be slightly grateful for was the fact that they didn’t then kick the remains into the lock. The fence is now restored and probably more firmly installed than before because it was concreted in this time. There was also some remedial pointing to brickwork on the bridge so things look better overall. Another group went off the Haverholme Lock to do a general sort out of vegetation and tidy up. In January, after a period of ‘tweaking’ and refining the design of the

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Wey & Arun Canal

Lichfield Canal

Martin Ludgate

I was going to say there’s not much to report As the work on the Lichfield Canal Lock 25 – because we’re waiting for confirmation bywash approaches completion the Lichfield about several exciting things. But looking & Hatherton Canals Restoration Trust hopes through the recent reviews things are conto see the installation of the new bridge to tinuing to progress at quite a rate, despite complete the footpath over the tail of the unfeasibly poor weather. lock. The design matches that of the earlier Notably, the next lock north on the one. The brickie team will then create conoperational section – Devils Hole - is due to nection to a spillway above the lock, using be reopened on April 17th. Work is almost salvaged blue engineering bricks. The weir complete, with just the back pumps, training itself will be formed by recycled stones. walls, bollards and fencing remaining for Meanwhile, Trust engineers are looking at WACT’s own navvies. The gates were due to all the implications of taking water from the Big do in as this issue closed for press. The Pipe (the storm-water drain pipe laid down the winding hole at the lock was delayed because bed of the canal after it closed), which is beof bad weather, but silt removal and dredgcoming a priority. The first move is to investiing resumed in February. gate and map all the connections from land Of course, all the usual clearance and drains, two of which are known to join at difficult tidying up, and minor works to keep the oplevels. The latter will have to be re-routed to erational section running as well as stop nature prevent backing up. When all the information taking over again elsewhere, have continued. has been collated, approaches will be made to So what of the near future? Well, plans all the bodies likely to have an interest in the are progressing for the next lock beyond scheme for comment and approval. Devils Hole. Southland Lock disappeared in The Trust has approved the installation the 1930s when the brick chamber was of a specially commissioned sculpture to be ‘recycled’ – local lore has it that the Cokelers, sited on the abutment of the former accoma Loxwood-based religious group, sold the modation bridge. bricks to a Cranleigh builder’s merchant. The latest section of the Lichfield By(Incidentally the Cokelers’ name apparently pass road below the former Lock 19 has now derives not from a drug habit or fizzy drink been opened. No fencing has been placed addiction, but came from either ‘cuckolds’ between the new road an Trust property. (an insult by their opponents) or, more likely, At Huddlesford, where the Lichfield because they favoured drinking cocoa rather Canal meets the Coventry Canal, Lichfield than the stronger stuff.) Cruising Club now has an outline scheme for The only visible remains of the lock the proposed new mooring basin to replace its today are the iron bottom quoins. The moorings in the first length of the Lichfield demolition job did us a favour; a badger sett Canal. This will now be submitted to the now occupies the site of the Environment lock bridge, but the rebuilt lock Agency to work to can be sited about 10m away, resolve any flood keeping the badger conservaplain issues. These tionists happy while not upsetdiscussions on ting the canal archaeologists. hydrology should An appeal is about to be be wide-ranging launched. Even using mostly and cover the volunteer labour there won’t whole of Phase 1 be a lot of change from and Phase 2 of the £300,000. restoration as And thanks to a bequest, outlined in the and WACT’s proven expertise at Atkins Feasibility moving rapidly when required, Study. We know we hope to be able to announce there will be exciting developments at the concerns about northern end, near the junction water supply and of the canal with the River Wey. water quality. Bill Thomson The only visible sign of Southlands Lock Brian Kingshott

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Progress Wendover and Lancaster

both the east and west portals of the tunnel, as well as clearing ivy on the top of the east tunnel entrance. The “stonemasons” worked on mixing lime mortar and building up or repairing the accommodation bridge walls. Good progress was made with all these tasks although there is a small amount of walling still to be repaired and the coping stones to be replaced on the top of the wall. Mike Valiant

Lancaster Canal Trust

Grand Union Wendover Arm In February conditions along the ‘dry’ bed of the canal meant that it would have been folly to move plant to Drayton Beauchamp so the Wendover Arm Trust decided to spend the February work party completing various works and clearance at Little Tring. The completed waterproof lining at Drayton Beauchamp, not yet meant to be in water, was so effective that water was nearly overflowing the low temporary bund, so we again pumped most of the water out ready for the next dose of rain and/or snow. At Little Tring there has been a problem with using chestnut fencing and other means to provide gateways so we bit the bullet and replaced the chestnut fencing at four locations. We also put a 14ft gate at the inner entrance where delivery lorries had a tight squeeze through a 12ft gate, using the old gate for the ready-mix loading bay. With the help of an 8 tonne excavator and wheeled dumper, lengths of Bentomat lining material were rolled on cores, rolls of Bentomat were sorted and stacked ready for use in completing Stage 1, and three new rolls were placed on the cutting bay ready for cutting and rolling. General tidying up and a good bonfire to dispose of unserviceable wood and life expired fencing was another task completed as well as removing small trees and stumps from the offside bank that were obstructing the ready-mix loading bay for dumpers being loaded. Roger Leishman

Repairing the accommodation bridge walls (above) and clearing the tunnel portal (below)

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Lancaster Canal Trust

Lancaster Canal Northern Reaches The plan for the Lancaster Canal Trust’s February 14th work Party at Hincaster Tunnel had been to continue working on on the eastern accommodation bridge over the tunnel top horse-path, carrying out repairs to the wall - but obviously 16 people couldn’t all do that. Leader Paul therefore hastily expanded the work programme and various groups were sent off to scrub bash around

Finally in Lancashire, they’re repairing an accommodation bridge over a horse path over a tunnel...


WRG BC is looking for ideas on events for WRG boaters to attend - once the rivers have started behaving themselves again...

WRG BC News from WRG’s boat club narrowboat to enable it to pass safely under the bridge. At one stage, the force of the water against the craft and its position against the bridge forced an attempt to winch it free to be abandoned because the boat was in danger of tipping over.’ It is vital that people know the state of the river before taking to it in their boats – it could make the difference between life and death. If you do not frequently travel on the river, phone the Environment Agency before making a passage; 0845032112 for the River Nene or 0845033211 for the River Great Ouse. They have river inspectors for each section of the river. As soon as the names and phone numbers for this season become available I will pass them on. Please ask. By the time you get this we will be off boating, one way or the other. To get in touch phone, text or email will be quicker than Royal Mail. The club is still looking for suggestions for ‘gatherings’ preferably where we can boat and dig or campaign. See you on the cut xxx Sadie Dean 07748186867 sadiedean@msn.com

WRG Boat Club news There’s not at lot to say regarding club members boating about, but we are still busy. As I write this, Lynne is off to an Association of Waterways Cruising Clubs (AWCC) meeting tomorrow and I will be attending the AWCC National AGM next week. But I am so keen not to go too far over Navvies copy date that you will have to wait till next time for any relevant news. [If only all our contributors were so observant of press dates! ...Ed] The AWCC handbook will be available after the meetings and should also be accessible online. PLEASE send your email address to me so I can give you details of how to do that. I am assuming ‘all will be revealed’ about achieving this bit of technomancy at the AGM. I will only be sending hard copies to those who have requested them, so if you want one let me know. Note the handbook will be in ‘loose leaf’ format again – you will have to provide a file to keep it in. Reasons for getting the handbook online: it will save the club money it will save paper you can limit what you receive to just the bits you want, it will make life easier for me (eventually).

I make no apologies for repeating the following advice for boaters on rivers because as I write there is again a ‘Strong Stream’ situation on the River Nene. Strong Stream Advice is the same as a Red Card situation on the Thames. It means DON’T NAVIGATE ON THE RIVER! There has already been ‘an incident’ this year because a boater ignored the strong steam advice. ‘On Sunday 17 January 2010 a novice boater, who was attempting to navigate in Strong Stream conditions became trapped long-ways on against a bridge on the River Nene, sparking a major rescue operation. It took Environment Agency staff and several fire crews, including a specialist water rescue team, more than three hours to turn the 65ft

Martin Ludgate

. . . .

WRG BC is looking for events to ‘boat and campaign’: How about IWA’s Little Venice Canalway Cavalcade with it’s ‘Save our System’ theme?

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Plant Concrete mixer rebuild Rebuilding a mixer For many years wrg has owned a large concrete mixer; but after all the years of being trailed around the countryside and mixing countless tons of concrete, it was in need of some tlc. And so late last year it was delivered by our Beavertail truck (possibly one of WRG’s oldest pieces of plant on our newest!) into my back garden (below) - at least the wheels were going round! The challenge had started.

All photos by John Hawkins

The first task was going around as many nuts and bolts as possible chipping off concrete, giving them a good wire brushing and then dosing them in WD40 and paint stripper, with the hope that at least some would be easy to remove… what a hope! The next move was to start to remove all of the guards that surrounded the engine and drum gearing, the fixings seemed to be hidden in some strange places, but soon all were revealed. All guards were put to one side for a closer examination later. My chain block was set up under my carport roof and the engine removed (right)...

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John Hawkins takes up the scrapheap challenge - can he return WRG’s big mixer to its former glory? ...together with the fuel tank for any work to be carried out at a later date. The main drive pulley virtually fell off because of the wear on shaft and keyway etc. The next major part to remove was the mixing drum, particularly taking into account my limited lifting capabilities. And so a plan was hatched; or so I thought! Some of the larger bolts were freed with the aid of an extension on the spanner, but of the sixteen bolts that held the two main ‘channel’ cross members in place only two could be undone, one removed with the aid of the angle grinder and the rest just snapped-luckily they are nuts and bolts so replacement shouldn’t be any problem. The four bolts that held the bearing casting proved to be even more of a problem, which meant that I had to lift the drum and shaft...


”...necessitating the use of the angle grinder, rivet punch and a club hammer...”

Plant Concrete mixer rebuild

...high enough to clear the housing. A hydraulic bearing extractor was put to use to free the bearings, and then the lifting could begin.

...the framework of the mixer was dragged out of the way and the drum and shaft lowered to the ground. Having succeeded in getting the main components of the mixer separated it was time to start investigating what was needed to refurbish the mixer and also the possible costs involved. The bolts holding the bearing housing were particularly awkward, necessitating the use of the angle grinder, rivet punch and a club hammer. The bearing tracks also came under the influence of the angle grinder, the ones that went into ‘blind housings’ proved to be a real challenge - but were eventually removed. The small bevel gear that drives the drum is still firmly in place, unusually it is screwed onto the shaft and after all of the tons of concrete that it has mixed it is very tight on the shaft. But I will succeed at some point. The next jobs to be tackled will be:

But having reached the limit of the lift on the chain block I still needed about 3”-4” (75mm-80mm for the younger readers) more lift. The only course of action was to remove two of the wheels, and thus, after building two ramps out over the grass...

. . .

Start cleaning the concrete off the framework, drum, guards etc, Reset the drum turnover wheel (thanks Bungle for offering to do this) clean the bearings in the wheels.

There are also quite a few items that need to be straightened, old welds ground out before I can re-weld the brackets back in place. And at some point the engine will need to be checked over. I think that’s about all for now, because I’ve a Canal Camp to go on and also, not least because a certain magazine (Navvies) will need to printed and I cannot find my bench in the shed. And finally, does anybody happen to know of a company who deals with LINER mixer spares? John Hawkins More from John next time. In the meantime the $64,000 question is will John finish rebuilding the mixer before Bungle finishes rebuilding his KL15 crane?

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London WRG

London WRG get an icy reception at Eisey, find a nice warm stove on the H&G, return to their Basingstoke roots...

What’s happening down south? London WRG’s year got off to a little bit of a slow start (as, I suspect, did most of the regional groups) when our first dig of 2010 at Eisey Lock on the Cotswold Canals had to be cancelled at short notice due to the severe winter weather. Even more annoyingly, by the time the weekend arrived most of the snow had thawed, so quite possibly the dig could probably have gone ahead (although the access road was probably under water), but at least we got an opportunity for jokes about Eisey being too icy. Our second planned outing of the year was a whole lot more successful. Some time ago Martin Danks of WRGSW and the Hereford & Gloucester Canal Trust talked us into holding our early February dig on the H&G,

and asked us if it was OK for a few other folks to come along. “Fine”, we said, not realising quite how much he was going to pull the stops out to get some fairly serious amounts of work done. We duly arrived on a Friday night at Yarkhill Village Hall (that’s the one with the splendid wood-burning stove) to find that somehow Martin D and our own leader for the weekend James B had between them managed to round up over 40 volunteers from the ranks of London WRG, WRGSW, the H&G Trust and several returning from last summer’s canal camps. Fortunately not all of them were staying in the hall, because (despite having a really good wood-burning stove) it isn’t a particularly huge hall. And it was made slightly more cosy by the fact that our cook for the

On the H&G: tree clearance at Yarkhill...

...and slipway copings at Aylestone

Martin Ludgate

Martin Ludgate

London WRG update

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Tim Lewis

going back to our roots for longer-serving London WRG volunteers, as we were at Woodham Locks on the Basingstoke. Our task involved removing some steel piling for a lower lock approach wall that had been put in wrongly (no names mentioned!) and putting it back in correctly. This involved heaving a lot of very heavy machinery about, but – much more fun – it also involved fetching the machinery by boat from two locks further up. The boat didn’t have an engine, but it did have some ropes to pull it with. The boat also served as a working platform to support the piling ‘gate’, which made the job a lot easier. Can we suggest that in future, canal societies might like to make their canal navigable first, so that they can then use it for transporting stuff by barge when they come to restore... oh, never mind...

Above: Basingstoke piles going in. Below: Allan drills holes for the tie-bar; Helen acts as Allan’s counterbalance weight

Martin Ludgate

weekend, Deb, had brought Bailey with her. She maintained that Bailey is a Newfoundland dog, but most of the volunteers were of the opinion that he was in fact a small grizzly bear. Whatever, he’s so big that she has a van to drive him around in, but he did make an excellent draught excluder when he plonked himself down by the door. (Not that we really needed a draft excluder, on account of the excellent wood-burning stove...) As well as being the hall with a... I think you’ve probably got it by now... Yarkhill is also the village hall that isn’t within easy walking distance of a pub, so instead of repairing to a local hostelry we sat in the hall and planned who was going to work on each of three work-sites – Yarkhill, Aylestone and somewhere else. So come the morning we were despatched in three different directions. My team went just half a mile down the road to Yarkhill where we carried on with some work to cut down trees growing from the canal banks. The only place to fell them seems to be across the canal, so to cut them up you have to either don waders or clamber out along the branches. We did a bit of both. The Yarkhill length had seen some dredging since we were last there, and is now starting to look like a real canal again. We went and looked at the remains of the lock at the far end of the site – it’s a bit archaeological at the moment, but no doubt there’s an invert down there somewhere that we can rebuild it from in due course. Back to the accommodation for some good food (thanks Deb) and a chance to warm ourselves by the fine wood-burning stove, then we planned a bit of a swap around for the following day. So on Sunday I found myself at Aylestone, where the finishing touches were being applied to the slipway built last summer. Coping stones were going onto the sides, a buffer beam was being bolted onto the corner to protect it from bashes by boats, and there was a fair amount of landscaping – which is why I was there. My job was to train Chris on the dumper, and to make his training more interesting the locals had arranged for a high voltage electric cable and a high pressure gas main to be buried just under where we were working. He managed to neither black out nor blow up Hereford, so I gave him his ticket. I never did find out what the third team got up to, but Martin D seemed well pleased with the results. For our late Feb dig it was a case of

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London WRG Woss appnin daarn saarf?

London WRG finally make it to Eisey where they spend the weekend bashing bricks and eating cake

Martin Ludgate

David Miller

In March we headed for the Cotswold Canals and Eisey Lock again. This time the weather was better so we couldn’t make jokes about ‘icy Eisey’ and instead had to make do with a rather inferior pun about our leader Nigel being ‘i/c Eisey’. The main job for the weekend was to cut out old brickwork on the towpath side chamber wall, leaving a ‘dog tooth’ finish for the new brickwork to be keyed into when the wall is rebuilt on this summer’s camps. There are two ways to do this – with a Kango, which is moderately quick but can damage the surrounding brickwork if you aren’t careful, or by hand with lumphammers, bolsters and crowbars, which can give you a much better finish, but is much slower and, to put it bluntly, bloody hard work. However, sustained by an excellent supply of cakes (some of which were brought by Nigel, having been baked by his wife, and one of which was baked by Helen and presented to Nigel for his birthday) we persevered and by Sunday we’d got it pretty close to finished. A KESCRG visit in a few weeks should get the dismantling completed so that the summer camps can concentrate on the rebuild. By the time you read this you’ll probably have just missed the BCN Cleanup but Cutting out brickwork at Eisey Lock be in good time for our 22-23 May outing (provisionally to the Lichfield) followed by a trip to Goughs Orchard on the Cotswolds on 19-20 June to get things set up ready for the summer camps, then a return to Eisey on 10-11 July by which time the work should be well into the rebuilding stage. New volunteers are welcome on all our digs – and we aren’t just saying that, we’ve actually had a few new volunteers already this year!) – just contact Tim Lewis on london@wrg.org.uk or 07802 518094, or to join our email mailing list send a message to Jenny at head office on jenny.black@wrg.org.uk asking to join the London WRG Mailing list. We’ve also got a new editor Helena for our occasional ‘real’ paper newsletter London WRG News (thanks Ed for editing it for the last decade or more) and there should be another issue out in the not-too-distant. Finally, don’t forget our social gatherings in a central London pub, usually on the Tuesday about 11 Alison Smedley celebrates her MBE days before a dig - but check with Tim first. with London WRGies past and present Martin Ludgate

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Burslem progress

Navvies news Burslem Port Project

One to watch?

Martin Ludgate

Martin Ludgate

The New Jobs Fund trainees who carried out tree clearance as the first stage of the Burslem Port Project to open the former Burslem Arm of the Trent & Mersey Canal are seen celebrating completion of work. The next stage is for WRG to carry out a long weekend work party around the April 24-25 weekend to do some groundwork investigation and find out what’s left of the canal banks and what kind of nasties the canal was filled in with - as well as some initial work on the Cheshire Locks project. Contact Mike Palmer for details.

Over in Shropshire, the Whitchurch Waterway Trust has just agreed to push for the next stage of the Llangollen Canal Whitchurch Arm to be restored, including reinstating navigation through the intact but bricked-up Chemistry Bridge and the new Meadowcroft Bridge (built about 10 years ago with provision for future navigation) to a new small basin on the edge of town. This basin could then be used as visitor moorings while the existing berths on the already restored part of the arm would be rented out as permanent moorings to provide an income to maintain the canal. The work would be done in a way that would allow further extension later on a new route, dropping via locks (or possibly an inclined plane) to a mooring lake closer to the town centre. No suggestion of volunteer work at the moment, but maybe one for the future?

As well as the usual dancing, socialising and fundraising at the Barn Dance there was a presentation to Graham Hawkes (left) on his retirement after 20 years as NWPG leader...

...and also the presentation by KESCRG Chairman Ian Williamson (left) to Adam ‘Digger’ Morris of the annual award for doing the most for KESCRG over the past year...

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watching it transit en masse but to be honest the “presence” of HRH ensured they merely melted into the background - however one was aware that one was being watched carefully. Needless to say, the Stroud Canal did Martin Day not come up in the conversation but Princess It is with great sadness that I have to inform Anne was obviously well briefed and seemed you that Martin Day, one of the founding interested, not only on the restoration members of Grantham Canal Society, passed around Stroud but also the inland waterways away peacefully in hospital just before 12 in general. midnight on Sunday 14th February. The big wig from the Exhibition ComMartin Day will have been known to pany (Chairman/CE? we weren’t introduced) many in WRG and all those of you who have obviously had an Agenda and lamented the worked on the Grantham Canal. A very keen absence of BW. Not to miss an opportunity, I and active volunteer he could turn his hand immediately commented that they don’t to most things which he did very skilfully and have any money. cheerfully, creating a lot of laughs along the Finally I cheekily mentioned that “ your way with his brilliant sense of humour debrother is Patron of the Cotswold Canal spite failing health in recent years. Last year Trust, your sister-in-law of the Wilts & Berks he gave BITM an AV presentation of photos - now we’ll have to find one for you” to taken on our site earlier the same day, which which she replied that she is Patron of the he had produced as part of the fight for Canal Museum. Joshua Mann’s Bridge. There were plenty of photographers He will be sadly missed by all who around but I am afraid none of our guys got knew him. a record of the event. Colin Bryan, Grantham canal society Frank Wallder

Navvies news

Just another day at the Boat Show

Navvies Barn Dance

When the sniffer dogs appeared that morning to check the IWA Stand, we thought nothing of it. Princess Anne usually visits on the Tuesday of the second week of the Boat Show but normally she is swept past at a rate of knots. This year however we were visited by some men in suits with fancy badges. After asking for the Stand Manager and being told he was at lunch, one enquired whether any of us knew anything about the Stroud canal. “Yes”, we replied in unison, “there’s no such canal - you probably mean the Stroudwater” and when it transpired the Princess was interested, I commented on her brother’s connection with the Cotswolds, and they agreed that they probably did, so please stand by. The decision had to be made between John ‘the hover’ Paddon and Frank ‘foot in mouth’ Wallder - did they make the right decision? At least Robin wasn’t on duty that day she wouldn’t have got a word in edgeways. We were told she would be with us in ten minutes or so - the ‘or so’ turned out to be almost an hour. Sweaty palms and other nervous reactions. It was strange to be within the confines of the retinue rather than

A big thanks to all those who attended the annual Navvies Barndance - just over £1000 pounds was raised for London WRG, KESCRG and NWPG. Extra hugs go to Eli for masterminding the cooking and doing the accounts, Nic for his bartender skills, Adrian for actually getting the money off people and Ed and Suzie for co-ordinating the set up. Also thanks to everyone who helped set up / take down / washed up / served / prepared food - a real team effort. We will be doing this again next year and it will be about the same time - actual date to be confirmed. Till then... Helen Gardner

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Speaking of barn dances... Darryl Foxwell, WRG supporter since the 1970s albeit an ‘armchair supporter’ in recent years, has asked us to pass on the message that he is a ‘caller’ for barn dances in the Yorkshire area with a band called Zigzag, and might be prevailed upon to provide special rates for any WRGies wanting their services. See www.zigzagcb.co.uk


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

Apologies... ...to anyone who’s sent anything in to Navvies which hasn’t appeared in print. The editor had major computer problems a couple of months ago and may have lost a few bits and pieces. Feel free to send them again so he can lose them again in different ways... Dial-a-camp To contact any WRG Canal Camp: 07850 422156 (Kit ‘A’ camps) 07850 422157 (Kit ‘B’ camps)

Stamps wanted

Send used stamps, petrol coupons, phone cards, empty computer printer ink cartridges to IWA/WRG Stamp Bank, 33 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

Directory update Additions to our directory of WRG and canal society contacts, J published in every third issue of Navvies: Monmouthshire Brecon & Abergavenny Canal Trust Fourteen Locks Canal Centre, Cwm Lane, Rogerstone, Newport NP10 9GN. Centre manager Phil Hughes, 01633 892167 or 01633 894802, mobile 07971 235182, email mail@fourteenlocks.co.uk, website www.mon-brec-canal.org.uk Manchester, Bolton & Bury Canal Society Work Party Organiser: Steve Dent 07802-973228 website www.mbbcs.org.uk Next full directory in issue 242, please send updates to the editor

Congratulations ...to... Ed Walker and Suzie Pounce on their marriage and to Mel and Nat Belderson on the arrival of Austin Brunel weighing 8lb 14oz on 14 February

Don’t forget... ...to fill in the latest Navvies survey: what are your favourite and least favourite jobs on a canal restoration work site? see http://tiny.cc/WRGjobs

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Infill Canal drowning shock!

“It’s unfortunate that there seems to be a deliberate masochistic aesthetic around site these days”

memory of one of the great heroes of canal restoration his many friends and admirers in From Professor John Ashton, Regional Direc- the waterways movement decided to build a tor of Public Health (North West), as quoted set of memorial steps leading down to the by Daventry Town Council which doesn’t Avon from the church in Stratford. particularly want a new canal arm built to Money was raised, steps were designed connect to the town (largely, it appears, (a simple landing stage and flight of steps), because Daventry District Council does want planning permission was sought - and turned a new canal arm built to connect to the down on the grounds that the steps didn’t town), comes this startling news... comply with the requirements of the Disability Discrimination Act 1995 / 2005. So they “When the place of residence of persons were redesigned to include a ramp long drowning are plotted on a map of the region, enough for the gradient to be sufficiently together with the locations of coastlines and shallow to comply with the Act - and permiswaterways, a strong pattern has emerged sion has now been turned down by the where those who live close to canals are at council because the new design is too obtruparticular risk of accidental and self-harm sive and inappropriate in the context of the drowning.” Grade 1 listing of the church on aesthetic grounds. A chair lift has now been sugWhatever next? Perhaps a study to show that gested... those who live in deserts are at greater risk I can’t help thinking that the most from sandstorms, or that accidents on level appropriate way of commemorating the man crossings are more prevalent in areas served who got an entire canal restored in less time by railways? than it’s taken for the council planners to get We understand that Professor Ashton as far as refusing permission for a set of has recently been awarded a PhD in Stating steps, would have been to just build the the Bleeding Obvious by the University of Life. damn things and ask permission afterwards. If at all...

No shit, Sherlock...

One step forward... If you remember the legendary David Hutchings (and quite possibly even if you don’t remember him), you will know that a couple of the things that ‘Hutch’ was famous for were masterminding bringing both the Stratford Canal and the River Avon Navigation back to Stratford-upon-Avon, in the face of some at times very lukewarm supportverging-on-opposition from the local authority. And generally doing stuff in a fairly unconventional way - such as building new locks on the Avon from scrap materials scrounged from all over the place, and getting things built by his pool of prison and other volunteer labour so quickly that nobody had a chance to do much in the way of opposing them. Sadly he died five years ago, so in

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Seen at Windsor Leisure Show...

...an excellent solution to the problems of recruiting volunteers. We’ll build our own!


Dear Deirdre, I’ve been seeing a

Dear Deirdre: I notice a lot of my

guy in KESCRG who I really like, however he has a long-term girlfriend who digs for BITM and is now having a baby (although he isn’t sure if it’s his as he thinks she’s also seeing a guy from NWPG). The problem is, I’ve now met another guy in WRG NW who I really like and I’ve started seeing him too. It works quite well as they are away digging on different weekends. I don’t want to give up my KESCRG guy and I don’t think there’s much danger of them finding out about each other. I also occasionally meet up with an ex of mine who goes out with London WRG, but he has a boyfriend in Essex WRG. Do you think what I’m doing is wrong?

local group have taken to wearing these horrendous site jackets in luminous yellow and orange. They are always 14 sizes too big and reflect an eerie greenish-yellow light onto people’s faces, highlighting any skin blemishes and making them look like sinister canal-dwelling elves. I appreciate that they are practical work wear but surely we must have some standards of appearance?

Deirdre Writes: Putting aside any moral judgement, it looks like the main problem is a flagrant contempt for basic hygiene. However as you aren’t prepared to change your ways, I’m sending you the telephone number of a scriptwriter I know socially who writes for Eastenders. He always welcomes inspiration.

Deirdre Writes: It’s unfortunate that there seems to be a deliberate masochistic aesthetic around site these days. Volunteers seem to believe the more horrific they look, the more seriously they will be taken in the restoration community. You’ll notice at least one senior WRG figure setting the trend by striding round site clad in little else but an old pair of Amy Winehouse-inspired denim hotpants and a binbag jerkin. Take a stand now and treat yourself to a quilted North Face hiking jacket. Standards must be maintained.

Have you got a question for Deirdre? Just email deirdre@wrg.org.uk

WRGieotypes No 15: The insomniac Larry lies bathed in the sodium glare of a fire exit, silently cursing the snorers. Just this week he’s spent an embarrassing amount of money on a new top-of-the-range sleeping bag. A total waste. His expensive Therm-aRest might as well be a strip of cardboard for all the good it’s doing; the ear plugs are useless. Even the quart of whiskey he consumed after dinner isn’t penetrating his insomnia. Only 3 hours to go until breakfast. Larry’s sleeplessness is inexplicable: at home he always sleeps like a log. What is it about dig sleeping that eludes him?

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From this...

And from this...

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Profile for The Inland Waterways Association

Navvies 240  

Navvies 240 - magazine for volunteers restoring the waterways

Navvies 240  

Navvies 240 - magazine for volunteers restoring the waterways