after lunch to work on the towpath wall, only to find that the mortar was unbelievably hard, and progress was pretty slow on the top few courses. There wasn’t as much to demolish on that side, because half the wall had been rebuilt more recently, at least with newer bricks. The problem was that no effort had been made to tie the new wall in with the old, with all the bricks squared off, formPre-Basingstoke Camps BITM Dig ing a vertical crack all the way down between old and new. Seeing Di’s struggles, Graham 17 - 18 July 2010 arrived with long chisel and sledge hammer, Di and I arrived at the Deepcut accommoda- and was astonished to find that even that didn’t tion at breakfast time on Saturday - and found break the mortar, and we came to the concluit to be at least the four-star variety, as village sion that the wall had been built with concrete halls go. The main hall was huge, of the sort of rather than mortar. There was no option but to size that we’re always looking for to accommo- use the jack-hammer to demolish the whole date the London WRG/KESCRG Christmas dig! wall, which was three courses thick. This was It also had two carpeted “quiet” rooms, and extremely hard work, with Graham and Mark showers. The kitchen was a little small, but taking it in turns all day, for shorter and shorter had all the necessary equipment. periods each, and the hammer becoming less The purpose of the dig was to do the and less popular, while Di collected the ensuing preparatory work before two week-long camps rubble into buckets and hoisted them up on Deepcut Lock No 17, where the objective is onto the bank for others to empty. to rebuild both the upper wing walls. David S. managed to drop a chisel into The old walls obviously had to be dethe water right by the lock gate on the first molished first, and trenches dug behind each day, and had to don waders to seek it out. for a concrete pour on the camps. KESCRG Having recovered it, he found it was quite had already had one weekend dig, and they fun playing in the water, and he used a keb had rolled back the coping stones on the to rake up a lot of the leaf litter from round offside wall, dug the trench behind and the gates. Dave W. continued with this on the installed steel piling along the back of the Sunday, and he and Stella dug a trench along trench. This had since filled with water, the line of demolished wall to extend the which had to be pumped out, and we length. They then constructed a bund on the drained the pound above the lock. As the canal side of where the new wall will be built water went down, big piles of leaf litter to keep the water out. By the end of the appeared alongside the wall, which looked weekend both walls were demolished, the reasonably firm to stand on - that is until trenches dug, the site tidied up, and Pete Mina the dog scrambled down the bank to Redway was optimistic that the two weeks of get a drink from the canal before the water camps will complete the objective. disappeared, and sank in up to her oxters in Our regular cook, June, and David, one the leaf litter. As even the lightest BITMite of our stalwarts, were away on their honeyweighs four times as much as Mina, and the moon, so Chairman Simon stepped into the rest a tad more, we were duly warned. catering breach. There was a children’s party in Bob, Ros and Di started in with hamthe hall on Saturday attemoon, and we couldn’t mers and bolsters to demolish the wall, most get back in until 6pm, so Simon planned a cold of the bricks coming away reasonably easily. meal, with only chicken pieces and potatoes to We had three ‘Big Boys’ Toys’ on site: a 3cook, and served with pasta, savoury rice and tonne digger, a dumper and a jack-hammer. salad. Di made cold desserts and cakes, and The last named was quite popular at first Olly and Ian also contributed cookies and with our Big Boys, with Mark, Olly, Graham, cakes, so we were well served. David S. and Matt all having a go. Phill was A very physically taxing weekend, and happily installed in the Biggest Toy, the everyone worked extremely hard. We were digger, for the weekend, and he first rolled lucky that the weather remained dry, and we back the coping stones from the towpath all felt that we had achieved all that was wall, and then proceeded to dig the trench hoped for. behind it. With the copers gone, Di started Rachael Banyard
on the Basingstoke
Magazine for volunteers restoring the waterways.