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Navvies Notebook Forty Years of Voluntary Work on the Inland Waterways

No. 242

August-September 2010

waterway recovery group 1970 - 2010

Navvies Production Editor: Martin Ludgate, 35 Silvester Road, East Dulwich London SE22 9PB 020-8693 3266 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

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.

Š 2010 WRG


ISSN: 0953-6655

Visit our web site for page 2

Contents In this issue... Editor Martin explains about the cover 4 Roger Jeffries an appreciation 5 Coming soon autumn camps, reunion 6-7 Camp reporst Cotswold Canals x 3 8-15 WRG at 40 John Baylis and Alison Smedley 16-22 Then and now comparisons with 1970 23 Diary canal camps and weekend digs 24-26 Letters on BW, volunteers and unions 27 Survey interviewees, bogs and boozers 28 Progress restoration roundup 29-33 History of the WRG NW sales stand 34-35 Dig report BITM on the Basingstoke 36 Training day in pictures 37 Directory WRG and canal societies 38-40 WRG BC news from our boat club 41 Noticeboard now its Harry Arnold MBE! 42 Infill including the Deirdre interview 43-45


Above: Inglesham Lock (the one almost in Nic Bennett’s garden!) and some London WRG volunteers looking forward to restoring it with the aid of the IWA appeal just launched (see page 44). Left: first boat through the new bridge in Sleaford. Below: volunteers on the Mont camp rebuilding Crickheath Wharf - report next time. Front cover: see page 4 for an explanation

...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 Press date for issue 243: September 1st.

Andy Whittle

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, that everyone can afford. Please add a donation.

all the latest news of WRG's activities page 3


Looking back to the early days of Navvies, and forward to the future of BW...

Where has the colour cover gone?

What’s with the strange cover this time? Well it just so happens that this issue is the closest one to the actual 40th anniversary of the founding of WRG at the IWA National Rally at Guildford in early August 1970, so we thought it appropriate to go back to our roots. Those with very long memories will recall that in the early days of Navvies, it was called Navvies Notebook. And that in those distant days before decent reproduction of photographs was a practical proposition to a low-budget publication, the front cover usually carried a sketch of a work site, a canal scene, or some working boats as per this issue. What wasn’t quite so widely known was that the artist was none other than the late Graham Palmer, founder of WRG and Navvies editor for the first 80 issues. Fast forward to a few months ago, and during her researches for the ‘40 interviews’ series Helen Gardner heard about one of these sketches that had never been used. So the sketch, supplied by Mike Day, forms this issue’s cover - and to put it in character, we’ve renamed ourselves Navvies Notebook for one issue and gone back to 1970 style. Normal service will be resumed next time.

Carry on Camping! Last time I appealed for folks on summer canal camps to write camp reports for Navvies and send them in good time so that we could include a selection this time. Well my thanks to those who did: we have three - all from Goughs Orchard Lock on the Cotswold Canals. That means as we go to press we’re anticipating another one from Goughs, three from Eisey, two from the Mont, Basingstoke and Mon & Brec, one apiece from the Chelmer and the Chesterfield, and one from the National Festival. Looks like 243’s going to be a bumper issue! Remember to send some photos in too, and if you put any photos online on Facebook, Flickr or any of the other picture sharing sites, do tell us.

British Waterways: another way forward? Don’t worry, it isn’t another editorial whinge about BW this time. Just a small comment following on from last issue’s moan, in which I argued that unless BW showed a bit more interest in working with our kind of volunteers instead of just seeing volunteers as a way of keeping costs down on the navigable network as part of its plans for the future, then it shouldn’t be too surprised if the restoration movement shows no great enthusiasm for its proposals to move to the charitable Third Sector and the increased emphasis on volunteering that BW claims this will bring. Well perhaps there’s a third choice, besides the BW we know, and the way some might see a future Third Sector BW. When the new Waterways Minister Richard Benyon responded to a Commons debate on the future of BW and the waterways, he not only paid tribute to restoration volunteers (he has the Kennet & Avon running through his constituency, so he may know a thing or two about restoration), but he also assured MPs that it would have “a completely new board or council that would shape its future” and “would not be British Waterways by another name, but a new structure in different hands altogether”. Do we believe him? Well, he also said that as a first step he was considering putting representatives of user groups on the existing BW board. And a week later he appointed Clive Henderson, Chairman of WRG’s parent body The Inland Waterways as an interim observer pending appointment of two volunteer board members. A step in the right direction? Martin Ludgate

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Roger Jeffries, boater, WRG supporter, harbourmaster, WRG Boat Club stalwart and farmer, has died. Ian Williamson and WRGBC share some memories.

Obituary Roger Jeffries

Roger Jeffries: an appreciation I don’t actually remember with any certainty the first time I met Roger - poor memory for such things, somehow it feels as though I have always known him. I believe it was at the farm when I was still at university and possibly a teenager, I went to help Tom building block walls in the summer hols for a barn at the farm. I was keen, maybe too keen to expand my construction experience! A very friendly, yet direct individual we got on well and we shared tea and boating interests whilst sat on the old cushions from his narrowboat Tit Willow in the office. Roger was a keen boater from the late 1960’s, had travelled the majority of the Canals & Rivers on his boat and supporter of the IWA. His biggest contribution was as harbour master at the National Festival from Peterborough in 1993 right through to Wolverhampton in 2008, his attendance with NB Tit Willow since 1985 is quite some feat given the demands of his farming profession at that time of year. Unfortunately his health in 2009 was not conducive to being at Ratcliffe and after a significant fight with pneumonia, depression and a stroke he died in May 2010 aged 74. Roger was a great supporter of WRG and member of the WRG Boat Club. When WRG needed to formalise the storage of WRG Logistics to a central location he offered space on his farm and funded the road access works needed. The storage site continues and is a lasting legacy of his willingness to help and get things done. I am sure many in the organization will continue to be very grateful for a long time to come. Ian Williamson Wrgbc tribute to a friend We were very sorry to hear of the unexpected death of Roger Jeffries. He will be very much missed. His support for WRG took many forms but his membership of WRG Boat Club appeared to be something he undertook with enthusiasm from its inception. As he attended the Nationals as harbourmaster he was always able to attend the WRGBC WRGs. His comments delivered with humour and his absence at last years National was our first indication of his illness. He was the unanimous choice as the first recipient of the WRGBC bowl, which is awarded for outstanding contribution to wrg. At Worcester Festival he decided that his farm needed a new generator and it should be tested in the illuminated boat parade where wrgbc formed their own mock horse race (three boats taking part) aided and abetted by the commentary from Dave Dent. We didn’t win. WRGBC wish to convey their condolences to Heather and family. Sue Burchett

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Coming soon Autumn Camps, Reunion

Looking forward to the National Festival, October Canal Camps, the Reunion, Christmas and (gulp!) New Year...

Coming very soon: WRG’s 40th birthday party, 21 August We’re not quite sure whether this issue will come out in time, but if you do receive it before 21 August and aren’t already planning to come to our 40th anniversary bash at the National Festival site at Beale Park near Reading, please do see if you can make it. We don’t want to spoil the surprise by telling you all the details here (and no, that doesn’t mean we haven’t decided what to do yet!) but we do have a whole evening of entertainments planned, as well as a chance to mingle with WRGies past and present. It should be a memorable night. Contact Jude Palmer on 07739 045326 for more information.

Coming almost as soon: the National Festival camp, 24 Aug - 2 Sep Camp Leaders Mitch Gozna and Kirsty Wallace told us all about it last time and hopefully should have a good team of volunteers already booked in, but I’m sure they would always welcome a few more. Don’t worry about attending at short notice, but do please contact them first rather than turning up without warning: their details are Mitch 07768525469 or, Kirsty 07790740925 or

Coming just slightly less soon: October Canal Camps 23-30 October We’ve got a choice of two different sites for you again for this autumn’s canal camps, both running on the same week. Firstly on the Grand Western Canal leaders Mark ‘Mk2’ Richardson and Kirsty Wallace will be leading a major scrub-bash around the site of the fascinating Nynehead Boat Lift in Somerset, and will also be carrying out some maintenance work on the lift chamber itself. Secondly, Rob Daffern will be leading a team on the Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation, our parent body IWA’s very own waterway. IWA subsidiary Essex Waterways is heavily reliant on contributions from volunteers such as ourselves as it tries to put things back onto an even footing after rescuing the waterway from the bankrupt original canal company almost five years ago. The tasks planned will include bank protection, towpath clearance, repainting waterways structures and general maintenance work. Book for either of these camps via the WRG website, or using a canal camps booking form. Contact head office on 01494 783453 or email for details.

Coming a little less soon: the WRG Reunion, 6-7 November That’s what we used to call the Bonfire Bash, and before that we called it the Reunion, and before that we called it a biggish dig. But really it doesn’t matter what it’s called, it’s our annual major work-party and big get-together and everyone’s welcome - whether you’re a new recruit from this year’s canal camps, an old hand with many years’ experience with one of the regional groups, or even if you’ve never been on a canal dig before. We need a good turnout this time because we hope to completely finish the work we started at last year’s Reunion on the Montgomery Canal, working to reduce one of the most picturesque lengths of waterway on the Welsh border to a pile of smouldering cinders. No, seriously, our work is to clear the notorious ‘dry section’ of half a century of trees and vegetation, as a vital part of the preparation for finding out why it won’t hold water, making it watertight, rewatering it and bringing back the boats. So there’ll be lots of scrub-bashing with some big bonfires but quite possibly some other work on rebuilding the wharf wall too.

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We hope to have the same accommodation as last time, in a school near Oswestry with showers and plenty of room or lots of people. So don’t delay: fill in the booking form below and send it off straight away.

Coming not terribly soon: London WRG/KESCRG Xmas dig, 4-5 Dec This is the first seasonal event for the 2010-11 Christmas and New Year period, and, I hope, the first time we’ve mentioned Christmas 2010 in Navvies. Yes, it’s still a fair way off and we hope to have a lot more about it in the next issue - such as which canal it’s being held on! But in the meantime, make a note of it in your diary, and remember: you don’t have to be a regular with London WRG, KESCRG or any other group to come - everyone is welcome.

Coming even less soon: New Year Canal Camp 26 Dec - 1 Jan 2011 I’m afraid we know almost as little about the New Year Canal Camp at the moment, but as we go to press we’re looking at a couple of possible sites including the Manchester Bolton & Bury Canal. More details in the next issue.

For details of forthcoming events see

waterway recovery group

Montgomery Reunion 2010

I would like to attend the WRG Reunion on November 6-7 Forename:


Address: email: Phone:

Any special dietary requirements?

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

(please make cheques payable to ‘WRG’) for food

(cost is £13 for the weekend based on £3 breakfast and evening meal, £2 lunch) How will you be travelling to the Reunion? Do you want to work with volunteers from one of this year’s Canal Camps or from one of the regional groups? If so, which camp or group? Do you suffer from any illness, such as epilepsy or diabetes, about which we should know, or are you receiving treatment or under medical supervision for any condition YES/NO If yes, please attach details on a covering letter. In the unlikely event that you should be injured, who should we contact? Name:


Signed: Please send this form to: Reunion Bookings, WRG, Island House, Moor Road, Chesham HP5 1WA

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Camp report Cotswold Canals

Goughs Orchard Lock near Stroud has been a major focus for WRG’s effort, with four camps this summer. Richard Worthington reports from week one... Anthony cut and fitted a small coping stone to the towpath side curved wall in preparation for backfilling and Alan & Derek started uncovering a flight of steps at the lower end of the locks. Martin led a group to the pub to watch the England match, though a lot of them were back to work sooner than they had hoped. Chicken & veg was followed by watching Mike construct an ingenious plate stacking system for the new kit crockery and group cryptic crosswording.

Goughs Orchard week 1 26 June - 3 July “It’s a camp of two halves” Saturday “We welcome you to the new, super-sized, Brimscombe stadium for what looks to be a great match. On paper we have an interesting team with a good range of skills and, unusually, two team captains...” My only description of the accommodation before I arrived was ‘an industrial unit’ so finding out quite how big it was came as a bit of a shock – not only would most of our accommodations easily fit inside this one they could do it with their associated worksites. As the volunteers arrived and people got to know one another we went for a look at site - my first time there too. The previous year’s camps had built up the towpath side wall and cleared some of the brickwork from the other side; our jobs would be to finsh the brick clearance, start building up and start the coping stones on the towpath side. Back at the hall (we kept calling it that despite its size) we checked the kit, had the safety talk and had a dinner of spaghetti and meatballs. We then all headed to the pub across the road (and next to site)

Monday “Here we go, here we go, here we go...” The last few bits of scaffolding were fitted so that people could start cleaning off the wall and cutting out the broken bricks while Martin finished off the curve above the invert and Anthony worked to build up the lower end. Ian and Ben used concrete to start backfilling behind the stones Anthony had


First job of the day was to get the lock empty of water so that the scaffolding could be checked so there was shifting of pumps and clearing of scrub plus the traditional shifting of bricks and building of walkways for wheelbarrow runs. Once we could check the scaffolding we worked to raise the boards to work on the brickwork and finish off the towpath side so that we could work on the coping stones.

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Photos by Richard Worthington

“A steady opening with plenty of setups means it looks like we’re in for a good game...”

The damaged brickwork is dismantled...

finished on Sunday and we fitted toe boards to the towpath side scaffolding so that we could start on the coping stones on Tuesday. Back at the accommodation a group went off for a swim and Ben managed to catch a fish in the stream that ran through the industrial estate, and under the building. Mary helped Eli make Chilli for dinner and then we had a game of ‘Death Swing’, Mike’s invention involving a tennis ball, a Mattock handle and a pair of funnels for wickets – fielding was optional, ducking essential.

Tuesday “Martin and the girls are starting a strong attack on the left with a steady push on the right from the captain...” Another day, another area for backfilling, with Debbie & Jamie on it this time. Alice, Mike, Ian, David, Peter & I started moving coping stones into their proper positions on the towpath side using a selection of bars, rollers and cursing while the last of the wall was cleared. After a teapotless tea break(!) Martin started to teach bricklaying to Fiona, Bekka, Mary & Maggie so that they could start filling in all the areas that they had previously cleared (a WRG tradition) Jen arrived to see how we were getting on and, purely coincidentally, Eli had made Pimms Jelly.

After dinner we headed into Stroud for bowling – Girls v Boys. I’d like to say we let Eli win because she was the cook but we were just a bit outclassed. Back to the accommodation and some of us headed to the pub to plot for WRG’s 40th birthday celebrations.

Wednesday “Welcome back to what looks to be an exciting second half with a change of captain and fresh legs from subs Debbie, Jamie and Steve in off the bench...” A mid-breakfast delivery brought us a load more scaffolding for the following camps and a load more sand, ballast and cement for mortar and more backfilling behind the coping stones. Our newest brickies worked the top end of the wall while Martin worked around the stonework. Derek, Ben and Anthony continued the far end and started building a ladder recess. We finished laying out the coping stones so that we could start mortaring them in on Thursday and then went onto landscaping the previously concreted backfill. After we finished on site we got a visit from Rick to see how we were getting on and Jamie had a serious go at repairing the bike from the lock. After curry Jen led us in 5-a-side football in one of the warehouses, Boys v Girls again. Martin, David, Ben, ‘Safe hands’ Derek and I took on Jen, Debbie, Jamie, Alice & Mary. A tense first half left it as a draw but Derek in goal and David up front after that gave the boys a decisive win. Between the football and the general Wednesday weariness we had quite a lazy evening.

Thursday “Hard work and hot weather are tiring the team, but they’re giving 110% out there...” be replaced by new brickwork

The morning started with Mary, Maggie & Jen mixing mortar for Fiona, Bekka & Martin building up the upper wall, Jamie & Janet patching and Debbie, Steve & Anthony working the far end. Peter, David & Alice landscaped the concrete backfill from the previous day while Ian put in a layer of bricks to raise the first coping stone to the correct level. After lunch Jen & Peter went back to

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uncovering the steps and we started to mortar in the first coping stones. Lasagne for dinner was followed by a trip to the Village Inn brewery in Nailsworth organised by Ian & Janet, with Derek, Maggie, Peter, David, Anthony and Alice being educated about all the local ales. While most of us went out the rest set up their own cinema night using the projector and DVDs of Over the Hedge and Tropic Thunder.

Friday “They think it’s all over – it is now (well, week 1 anyway...)” We awoke to see rain for the first time in the week, but it soon disappeared. The brickies and mortar mixers continued on as they had while Ian, Alice and I continued with the coping stones. Peter and Derek started on the last bit of backfilling with concrete and Derek finished it off by landscaping it with more soil while Peter and Jen continued uncovering the steps at the lower end of the lock After lunch Ian & Janet and Debbie and Janet had to leave so Alice moved on to filling in the brickwork where Steve was working until she too had to leave. Bricking continued while the rest of us tidied site and packed tools before we headed back to the accommodation to check the tools and set up for the evening. We shifted all the sofas and comfy chairs to the carpark and set up the griddle for Martin to cook BBQ food for dinner. We were joined by Rowena, the Palmers, Harry, MKII, Alan and Michelle, who were all there for the training day on Saturday.

Saturday The usual end of camp tidying, kit checking and cleaning happened quickly while we also welcomed new arrivals for the next camp and for the training day. “At the end of the day it’s a funny old game and the team played a blinder, new signings and the many capped (T Shirted?) old hands alike. Fine leadership from the captains Mike and Jen with support from team cook Eli, but man of the match has to be RAF Martin with skills training and fancy brickwork leading us to a definite win.” Richard Worthington

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Above: manoevring coping stones into place. Below: the amply-sized accommodation

Camp report

“Drinking tea in the afternoon sunshine and congratulating ourselves on our good fortune” - Nick Farr takes up the story for week two...

Cotswold Canals

housed our only shower. This did lead to queues each evening but these were alleviated by pre-dinner van trips to the Stroud “Life is a Bowl of Cherries at Gough’s Orchard” Leisure Centre showers complete with a charabanc singalong to such classics as Queen, “The accommodation will be at Unit 4 ELO, and Aerosmith and a quick pit-stop at Brimscombe Business Park, about Tesco’s to re-supply the drinks cabinet. 250m from the work site adjacent to So, as the team arrived, we congreBrimscombe Port Mill GL5 2QN” does gated by the front door, drinking tea in the not sound like the perfect holiday destinaafternoon sunshine and congratulating ourtion, but it was mine on that hot Saturday selves on our good fortune. Well-done WRG afternoon at the beginning of July on my Control for this booking. With dinner cooknd way to the 2 2010 Gough’s Orchard Canal ing, first time leader Martyn ‘Boss’ Worsley Camp. The three most important things introduced us to his faithful hound, Barnie, about a place are location, location and his Number 2, Sir Clive Knight (first time location. Well, Brimscombe Business Park has assistant leader) and first time camp cook, all three. It sits in the steep and wooded Tania Connolly. Quite a challenge for all Golden valley and is indeed 250m from the three but we were in good hands. We soon work site but it is also only 100m from the learned that beneath Martyn’s cool, laconic Ship Inn and 50m from an Off Licence. There surface, Clive was paddling furiously and is also a paper shop and a chippy nearby. Tania was simply unflappable despite On the face of it Unit 4 is a large ware- dinnertime being a very moveable feast as house on an industrial estate a few miles out we were often late back from the site or the of the back end of Stroud. But appearances showers. can be deceptive and inside it boasts spacious, recently furnished accommodation with fitted carpets and ample electric sockets throughout. The large boot room, with kitchen and Ladies and Gents toilets off, leads to an open plan dining and sitting area which has stand alone Burco and traditional WRG toaster to one end. A long refectory table and chairs for more than 20, plus several comfy sofas surrounding it are included. This gives access to the adjoining warehouse and generous indoor parking. We would have been happy enough with this – luxury, compared to many places I’d read about (see previous issues of Navvies), but we also had an upstairs! Yes, upstairs where there were four or five good size bedrooms with fitted carpets, including a single for any incessant snorer or overly shy WRGie. The adjacent Brimscombe Port Mill turned out to be a handsomely restored Cotswold stone building sat astride the river Frome which chuckled past a small front lawn and dog ‘exercise’ area. The former Building the lock ladder recess Alan Lines

Gough’s Orchard Week 2 3 - 10 July

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Camp report

A tale of scaffolding, bricklaying, coping stones, and the Great Nailsworth Brewery Disaster...

Cotswold Canals

way between the accommodation and Gough’s Orchard Lock. The Ship is a smart, stone built pub sited next to the old canal bed, downstream from Brimscombe Port and will soon be next to a unique and ingenious canal and river level crossing, both sharing the same bridge under the road. Every wall is adorned with portraits of seagoing sailing ships and seafaring mementoes, which perhaps reveals an overly optimistic view about the future trade passing their doors. This family-run pub sells a good selection of real ales including the locals Gem and Bob, which stand up well to the Pedigree and Doom Bar from further away. Each morning the sun warmed our backs as we ambled down the dusty lane towards Gough’s Orchard lock where we set to our daily tasks: there was mortar to mix, bricks to pile, scaffold to check, Burco to boil and a camp to establish under the shade of a large ash tree. Once done we could get on with our mission which was to continue the previous week’s work of rebuilding the lock walls after last year’s camps tore them down. A team of “Copers” levelled and set the huge coping stones on the nearside lock wall that the previous week’s camp had built. They then in-filled with stiff lime mortar and rubble before back filling with concrete, finally pointing with very stiff mortar to produce a tidy finish. Job done, they moved to the far side of the lock where the brickies were nearly finished rebuilding the wall five bricks deep and untold courses high. Midweek, we’d had a game of The Krypton Factor and endeavoured to raise the scaffold level whilst still standing on it. By Friday we were standing on boxes rather than try our luck again. The skilled mixer and barrow team kept us continuously supplied David Miller

The Group was a good mix of 1 part ‘old hands’: John Hawkins (left over from the 1st week), Richard Thomas, Robert Brotherston (just passing through), Sleepy Dave and also Richard Tyler (and his faithless mutt, Forknose) and Chris Patience (swelled the ranks on Monday), + 1 part ‘some previous experience’: Keith Hope, Steve Bayliss (with loyal bitch Millie), Ros Murray and Nick Farr, + 1 part ‘fresh faces’: Michael Druce, Ronan Finnegan (all the way from Dublin), Nigel Gibson, Helena Stole, Scott DoE and Alex Davies - just add alcohol and mix thoroughly. This we did on our way back from the site visit, as the pub is conveniently half

The team of ‘copers’ at work

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baked cakes to sustain our labours and each evening we found new ways to amuse ourselves. Notably a trip to Sapperton tunnel and the very salubrious Tunnel House Inn on a warm summer evening; a game of indoor rounders in the vast warehouse; Sir Clive’s Camp Quiz; a boozy barbecue on the last night. On the Thursday evening, after an early fish supper Martyn and Clive arranged a visit to the microbrewery at the Village Inn, Nailsworth. A most interesting and informative tour was followed by a sampling session at the bar, which was made even more special when the locals produced various musical instruments and gave us some impromptu diddly-dee – a great craic. Unfortunately, after such a well-run week we had grown complacent. What could go wrong with entrusting our leaders to organize a booze-up in a brewery? Surely, they would not forget the camp phone and be unable to contact John to mobilise a lift home, thus forcing the tired and emotional WRGies to remain at the bar long past their bedtime. It was a shame that their inexperience had let them down, for it was very nearly a perfect Canal Camp: top location, fine food, great weather, jolly crew, and good progress; if only it hadn’t been for the great Nailsworth Brewery disaster. Nick Farr

David Miller

with cement, lime mortar (both stiff and sloppy) and bricks (both facers and fillers), cursing our constant and contrasting demands. Skilled craftsmen lined the ladder recesses and did the curvy bits at the ends. Meanwhile… the water level beneath us rose steadily up the scaffolding despite the hired water-pump, which seemed to be all noise and no action (much like the England football team). By Tuesday the feet of the scaffold were lost to view as were an assortment of trowels and lump hammers. By Wednesday the first scaffold joints were submerged and something had to be done. After a mare of a day carting the thing back to the hire shop and searching for an alternative, only to have to bring the same one back again ’cos it needed water to test it, Martyn handed it over to John Hawkins who, by taking it apart and rebuilding it, gave it new life. It sucked for England and by Thursday afternoon the bottom was revealed and Steve was reunited with his precious pointing tool. It also appeared that all the mortar spoil dumped in the drink had given the scaffold concrete over-shoes. So, the summer days passed pleasantly and the wall slowly rose under the appreciative gaze of passing dog-walkers and joggers. Each afternoon Tanya and Richard would bring us freshly filled rolls and oven-

Rebuilding the offside chamber wall

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Camp report

Finally Helen ‘Bushbaby’ Gardner reports from the third week in her own inimitable style...

Cotswold Canals

Goughs Gazette


July 10th to 17th 2010

Price: 47p

No 4783


HEAVY: Amply proportioned but I have my place. Good technique required to “cope” with me. Manhandle and mortar me into position and I’ll stay with you for years.

MATURE: 225 year old, slightly crumbly around the edges but solid foundation seeks multiple partners for a good old overhall and maybe long term maintenance. Must bring protection.

INSPECTOR: Dress in rubber, don a hammer and a level and check my joints.

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BLACK: smooth and wet. A GSOH required to reach my hidden depths. Paddle away through years of experience and see what you can culvertivate.

Uncredited pics by Martin Ludgate

SUPPORT ME: Tall, slim and hard: seeking swivel joints and putlock couples for structural time. Must be able to deal with inverts and recesses.

David Miller


LOVABLE ROGUE: 18 months old baby faced. Needs life partner to enjoy long walks in the country, share ball games, licking and to enjoy good any food and a bowl of water.

CHASE AWAY my fears and fill my empty cracks. Seeks stamina, staying power, GSOH needed and must be a good mixer.

STAFF WANTED: Unstable surface seeks levelling influence. Must have 3 legs and one good eye. Friendship, maybe more.

BUBBLING spurting (capable of all orientations), enthusiastic with sturdy hose. Primed for action.

No apologies for the randomness of our camp report but we did spend a little time browsing the ‘Soul Mates’ section of Stroud Life and we were Camp 3 of 4. We finished what Camp 2 left and started what Camp 4 finished and we had fun. It was a lock – it was pulled down and we played our part in rebuilding it.

GOOD LAYER REQUIRED – must be prepared to share bed with others. No ties.

Thanks to Bernd for assisting and then leading when I abandoned ship, Shantelle for assisting when I abandoned ship, Lizzie for beautiful food all week until she abandoned ship and finally the Ship Inn for not abandoning ship or kicking us out. Helen Gardner

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WRG at 40

Continuing our series of interviews with those involved in WRG over the last four decades, Helen Gardner talks to a couple of Essex girls...

Forty views for forty years

40 Views for 40 Years The fourth 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. This time it’s over to the East Midlands to meet John Baylis, WRG Director, right there in the beginning of WRG but still very active now. Let’s find out what goes on in that workshop in Langley Mill, and give him a chance to defend what others have said in previous interviews...

Q: How and when did you first get involved in canal restoration? A: I joined the IWA in 1969 my name and address went in the local IWA magazine and at the same time another fellow who lived in Mansfield: Mike Briggs also joined. He rang me up to see if we wanted to go to the Sheffield branch meeting because that was the closest place that had branch meetings. So we agreed to go to Sheffield and the branch, in those days, was on its last legs, and we got several new committee members in and Mike Briggs became the working party organiser. So it got us doing different projects, a few locally, then we started going away for weekends and we went to the Derwent, Peak Forest, Ashton. We went to Bath, the Avon (worked with Hutchins on the Avon) and did other jobs. We went, of course, to the big digs at Ashton where he said he’d try and get a hundred people from the Sheffield branch to go to the second Ashton. The committee said ‘you won’t get that – you’ll be lucky to get 50 there’. In the end he got his hundred over the 2 days. In 1974 the old Sheffield branch became part of the new East Midlands region along with Lincolnshire, Notts, Derby and Leicester branch and Mike became the first region chairman and on IWA council. From then on he started meeting Graham Palmer at council and they suggested that we ought to set up an East Midlands WRG. One of the jobs I’d sort of been looking at was the extension of the Chesterfield Canal through Morse Lock so that we could get a winding hole in the Lady Lea Arm. We tried to persuade British Waterways that it would be a relatively easy job to rebuild Morse Lock. I think if we’d done that we’d probably have gone away. But they kept saying ‘no’ and we had a campaign. The IWA campaign rally was in Worksop in 1977 and just before that I called a public meeting which formed the Chesterfield Canal Society. Since then the thing has snowballed considerably. I decided not to be an officer, I thought “let them get on with it”. After many years of struggling they’ve got as far as Norwood Tunnel. When we first started in 1976/77 the chances of getting up the Chesterfield Canal even as far as Shire Oaks (which is the first 7 locks) was unimaginable. To get to the tunnel was completely out of the question. When I sort of retired from the Chesterfield Canal Graham Palmer asked me if I’d look after the work parties at Frankton on the Mont until he could get someone local. In 1979 I started going over there regularly to work on the Mont. Brian Haskins (the then British Waterways engineer) at Northwich (who we all called Rising Damp), he was quite keen on what we were doing. At that time Brian was the only BW engineer that allowed volunteer work parties (I perhaps tell a lie – there were 2 of them – there was also John Freeman in Wigan). North-West [WRG] had started taking lock 3 to pieces on the towpath side and we persuaded Mick Golds (or Mick the Brick to give him his WRG name – Brian Haskins and Graham Palmer used to say ‘his hands go like butterflies wings when he’s laying bricks’) and the Erewash gang to go and do the bricklaying because they were quite good at it. I think they’d taken half the length of the lock down and Mick went to help rebuild it. When we got there we hadn’t got the right sand and there was not enough cement and the scaffolding was all nohow. Brian Haskins happened to come to a meeting that day, we were using the engineering bricks with 3 big holes in them and he says you don’t really want to use them underwater ‘cos they

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get water in them – I want you to use solid bricks. I want you to improve the scaffolding as well. So I, as the organiser, got to work; scaffolding was given to us by Mansfield and we needed to get it there. We loaned the scaffolding contractors lorry to take it there one Sunday morning which was quite interesting because I got a speeding ticket on the A5 going from Shrewsbury to Oswestry. We got it there and we’d got enough to scaffold the whole length of a lock. We took the other half down and Mick started coming along and we could do the whole run in one go. So we had 3 weekends to finish rebuilding lock 3, doing the brickwork. Then I got other groups like WRG North-West and an occasional canal camp to do some work on it. After discussion with Brian Haskins we decided we could then have a go at the staircase lock 1. The other chap who started helping me quite a bit was Dave Lee, who now lives in Worcester somewhere, and he lived locally then and he was quite good at engineering bits and pieces and looking after the site. Me and Dave often worked together, we carried on at the Mont and got lock 1 rebuilt. Lock 2 wasn’t so bad and Brian agreed that we just could do that by patching up – that was largely done by the Trent and Mersey [canal society] with Pat Osborne’s lot. Brian Haskin decided there was a problem with leakage on the locks and he wanted it pressure grouting and he wanted it doing properly. So we organised a grouting contractor to come in and do the job and he drilled and grouted on 2 and also lock 3 which was then going to be as far as we were going. The worst part of the locks was where the ground paddles were – where it was leaking through the stone work. When they’d done the main contract – the 3 locks – Brian Haskins said ‘while they’re here they might as well do lock 4’ which is a lock we’d never touched. Lock 4 is an odd lock in that the bottom half is brick and then it’s stone above low water level. The stone was basically all right. They drilled and found a cavity on both sides behind the stone work about a foot deep and ran the whole length of the lock. So they put in quite a few tonnes of grout into both sides and were trying to do the ground paddle area and they said ‘you’ve been here quite a bit – you’ve seen what we’re doing – it’s daft paying us 30 quid an hour - you could do a lot of it yourself – we’ll lend you a small grouting machine’. So I used to go over to Doncaster on a Friday night and pick up the grouting machine and a mixing tank. We’d then drive over to the Mont – probably me, Dave Turner and anybody else that was around and we’d spend the weekend pressure grouting. Then on Monday night I’d take it back to Doncaster which was a round trip of about 70 miles. So we borrowed it for a while and then they got a contract on the London Underground so we couldn’t borrow it. So I thought that we’ve had it to pieces so many times cleaning it that I know how it works; it’s a fairly simple device made out of plumbing fittings and big ball bearings. So I made a grout pump and I’ve still got it, we still use it occasionally. Some of the ground paddles took half a tonne of cement grout on each side. That was roughly where we left it – they put new gates in and we had an official opening in I think 1987 and we were the first boat down. We actually put gates in lock 4 as well as getting it grouted, and we went into lock 4 and lowered the level and just opened the bottom gates and went up to the stop planks which were just below the tail gate. There’s a photograph somewhere of our boat with Ken Goodwin and myself looking over the stop planks towards Queens Head. That was sort of it and we went away. I then started with Graham doing Aston Locks and I think we started on lock 2 [and then lock 3]. We got that one done and then I moved out of the Aston area as manager of the job and Mike Palmer took over from me with Graham Deamer. He was instrumental in taking lock 1 down though I have a feeling I was involved in doing the floor in that one. We needed to theoretically lower the lock because we’d lowered the canal level by 2 feet above Aston Top Lock [Lock 1] and put the Graham Palmer lock in. Roy Sutton and myself took one or two bricks out in the bottom and low and behold there was running sand underneath the bricks. We decided it would be impossible to take the bricks out we would just have to concrete on top of it. There was so much water coming through the springs from underneath we had to put drainage pipes in the concrete to let the water out and when the concrete had set round the drainage pipes we cut them off at water level and then grouted them full of concrete. Graham Deamer and Mike Palmer then reduced the height. About the same time Alan Jervis was involved in doing the nature reserve there – I did a few more bits there. [Going back a bit] when we got to doing the scaffolding Brian Haskins was saying that you ought to have some sort of safety booklet or guidelines. So along with Dave Carnell from Lincolnshire Branch of IWA we wrote and printed the first WRG safety booklet which was in the early 1980s. Of course that went on from then. It was a 30 page A5 booklet with loads of cartoons in but it made a lot of sense and was a fairly straightforward safety manual. When I became involved with Graham Palmer in 74/75 Graham asked me if I’d go on the what was the WRG committee which was largely Graham’s cronies. There was Colin Butler who we called Boreham, John Felix, Mike Day, I think Roger Day was the treasurer, Harry Arnold and one or two more. We started meeting relatively regularly and we worked on the Stratford Blitz in the mid 70s. I spent a lot of time driving the old Smalley 5 loading road stone for the dumpers to take up the track to build the road up the Wilmcote Flight.

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Martin Ludgate

After that I’ve worked largely with East Midlands with the ECP and DA (Erewash Canal) we’ve done quite a lot of work at Langley Mill. I originally got involved in the Erewash in 1972/73 when we came down as a visitors work party from Sheffield. When I moved up with the boat in 1974 I’ve been on their regular work parties ever since. In those days we used to work once a month on a Sunday. The tail gates that were fitted [at Langley Mill Lock on the Erewash] were the original ones that had been recovered. We fitted them and they worked for a while but the Erewash Society had to put in a bond, about 1500 quid, to pay for rebuilding the gates should it be necessary and this bond was held by British Waterways or jointly. Then one of the heel posts broke one day when a boat was coming up – we managed to get the top gates open and get the boat out and then when we came to pump it out we found that the pintle and the bottom joint on the [same tail] gate had disintegrated. So in those days we had a few welders around who used to work at the pit for the National Coal Board and one of them said I could make you a steel shoe for that. So we measured it all up on the Saturday and he went away with his disk cutter and he came back with this steel shoe made in 10 mm steel and a metre long and half a metre wide. We bolted it on and fitted it together. The lock worked perfectly and it lasted like that for another two or three years by which time the Erewash society had got a Shell Award to build a new set of gates. In those days we just told BW we were going to close the lock and put stop planks in. They never bothered us, they hardly ever came to see us and we leased the land off them. In about 87/88 we rebuilt the swing bridge which had suffered from terminal rot damage. Over the years we’ve done various other things with the work party. We started doing the extension on the Cromford virtually ever since the lock [was reopened]. When the lock was reopened it only went about 20 yards. British Waterways wouldn’t let volunteers do any more so they formed themselves into the Langley Mill Boat Company and agreed with British Waterways that in order for it to be a going concern there ought to have a dry dock. They then built the dry dock over the next three years and I helped with that. In ‘77 the dry dock was open. It then went very quiet because the next bit was over the aqueduct over the Nethergreen Brook and they were concerned about how much cover was on the aqueduct. They kept saying no and eventually Mick Golds persuaded them to have a look and see how much cover was on it. We started digging a hole over the aqueduct to try and find the top of the arch and we got down 9 feet through coal silt and not found any sign of the aqueduct. So they [BW] came and had a look at it. When we dug the canal out we dug it out 5 feet so they allowed us to do that. At the same time alongside the canal they were doing some industrial development and they were doing quite a bit of concreting and one of the Erewash people said ‘what do you do with all your spare concrete?’ – ooh we dump it. So it suddenly became a good idea to dig the towpath side wall out and shutter it and any spare concrete they could tip in there. We got about 100 yards of wall out of that. The next bit was done by Langley Mill Boat Club themselves – they paid for it to be piled. I’ve got a feeling we did help with that. That was when the Case was brand new – I drove the Case quite a bit levelling it all out and getting the Case stuck many times. The Erewash Society wanted some coping stones and they were taking Portsmouth Station (which is near Hebden Bridge, Halifax) platform down and the edge copings were available. So the society by this time had got a grant, and bought £10,000 worth of stone copings which varied in size between 6 /7 feet long and approaching 3 feet long. We got 3 artic lorries full of them – fortunately at the top end where we were working you could get in off the industrial estate and you could Hiab them over the fence. We’ve used most of them now. Wearing my WRG East Midlands hat I’ve been doing other things like making stuff for festivals – I made some steel stillages for storing the timber on from the National Festival. We’ve been making some racks for the tardis and other things and quite a lot of small scale steel work. One of the jobs I’ve done this winter is mend the flag pole that somebody bent at Redhill – you’ll be seeing more of that. The other thing I’ve been doing (partly Erewash and partly East Midlands WRG) is making new spring loaded paddle locks for the Erewash Canal. In the late 70s British Waterways fitted the handcuff type locks that took a long time to screw in and a long time to screw out – we suggested they ought to use spring loaded locks. The first National I ever went to was Birmingham in 1969. Then when it came to Nottingham in 1974 that was the first on we ever went to by boat. The Erewash Langley Mill, top of the Erewash Canal Canal Society were doing the Lavender boat and I went

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wearing my WRG hat and I was driving the old Ford pickup doing the dustbin emptying. Nottingham was probably the first rally where they’d had a major water pipe installation (because Steve Champion who was the son of the rally director was a plumber). After the rally we put the water pipe in the Erewash cottage at Sandiacre to store it, where we stored most of the rally stuff and Steve let it out at various Nationals. In 1978 they’d decided to have the rally at Titford; Waterway Recovery Group were involved in the installation of it – probably for the first time. Graham Palmer was involved in running it, Steve and myself went and fitted the water pipe the weekend before. I was there by boat and on the Thursday, the week before the rally I did the pipe work for the toilets which were in a little car park at the back of some houses and emptied into the main drains. Because I’d spent a couple of days piping up the toilets I was christened Bogs by Graham Palmer and after that I’ve been known as Bogs. After that Steve and myself carried on doing the pipework at various places: Northwich, Tottenham, Wigan, several times at Hawksbury , Milton Keynes, Brentford. I can’t remember when we finally packed up doing it. It was eventually taken over by the WRG work camp and others and then the original tardis came on the track and the water pipe was then stored in there. So for a number of years we just went to the occasional national without doing much and then when it came to Huddersfield [2002] they were looking for somebody who was going to be around for most of the rally who could drive a tractor. I came on as a three week worker and started tractor driving; Mick Beattie was the work camp leader. I also used to answer the phone as tractor 1, and at the party after the do Mick made the comment that although I’d only got one tractor I always made it sound as if I was the first of several . I occasionally now at rallies get known as tractor rather than anything else. Then at Runcorn [2005] it was decided that they were going to replace tardis with tardis mark 3 and Bill Sinclair was packing up looking after tardis after 11 years. So I agreed to fit out the new tardis and look after it at subsequent rallies. I appear to have acquired a certain reputation for being mean – which I think is completely justified. I still am a board member now though I don’t go to many meetings. I’ve been involved for nearly 40 years. I’ve enjoyed the work, I was an organic chemist by trade but I’ve always enjoyed mechanical work. It keeps you out of mischief and it’s somewhere to go on a Friday [Erewash work parties are held on a Friday]. Post interview note: John spoke at length about the manufacturing of the paddle locks and the old Rushton, unfortunately I’ve had to cut that out to keep the size of the article down. We are still looking to get the interviews online (in sound format) so that you can go and listen for yourself if you are interested. Next, Alison Smedley MBE takes time out of Middlewich Folk and Boat Festival to be interviewed and explain what she’s been doing on the waterways over the years and what it was like to meet the Queen.

Q: How and when did you first get involved with canal restoration? A: My involvement in waterways goes back a lot longer than my involvement in

Martin Ludgate

Waterway Recovery Group. I went on my first canal holiday when I was about 3 months old and later in my childhood spent 5 years living on a Humber keel on the River Thames. Around this time my dad had been involved a bit with WRG and had been at the 1970 Guildford National when WRG was first formed. We moved back to a house and carried on going on occasional canal holidays. When I was 18 I left home and decided instead of buying a flat I bought a narrow boat and lived on that for several years. I used to go to IWA National Festivals – 1989 Waltham Abbey would have been the first one. I used to sit and look at all these WRG people in their red t-shirts and thought I’d really like to join them but I never quite plucked up the courage until December 1992. I was living on the boat in Uxbridge and I went along to an IWA social meeting where the speaker was supposed to have been Martin Ludgate, but in fact it was Tim Lewis standing in for Martin Ludgate, talking about WRG. That one evening changed my entire life because I decided to get involved with IWA on the committee; it was then the Middlesex section of the London branch. I became secretary and later became London region secretary. The first dig of 1993 – I was on London WRG’s dig. That year I went on almost every dig that London WRG did. I threw myself into it very enthusiastically with Martin, Lesley, Tim and co. That was the start of my involvement with WRG.

Q: What made you come back then? A: I went on my first dig; it was cold – we were working at Boxwell Springs Lock and were staying in

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Siddington. I remember working really really hard to try and impress everybody. We were physically digging silt out of the top of the bywash. I was absolutely aching by the time I got back home but I really enjoyed it and so I came back. We went all over the place that year.

Q: Since then what’s been the nature of your involvement? A: I carried on. Later that year I started going out with Rupert who was also digging with London WRG. He has an historic narrowboat so that involved doing quite a lot of boating. So as well as a bit of boating on my own boat, which I was living on still, we were travelling across the country quite a lot and going off boating. By 1994 we spent time gallivanting around the Midlands so that didn’t allow quite so much time for going on digs but we were still on quite a few of them right up to the time where we left London in 2000. We had got married in 1996 and by 1999 had found a house to move to on the Caldon Canal with moorings at the bottom of the garden. In the meantime I’d been pretty involved with IWA in London. So when we moved up to the Caldon Canal near Leek we got quite involved straight away with the local canal society. Since then we’ve carried on going on occasional London WRG digs especially if they’re further north. We got involved with the local IWA branch, (me as secretary) and Rupert and I both got involved with the Caldon Canal Society and I became work party organiser. Eventually we got some work going on on the top lock of the Uttoxeter Canal at Froghall so that meant that rather than being a volunteer on a weekend dig I was actually hosting the digs as a work party organiser. Although we only lived a few miles down the road from where the accommodation usually was, Rupert and I would both go and stay in the accommodation.

Q: Tell me a bit more about the Caldon Canal A: By the time we arrived the Caldon Canal Society were a bit worried about people overstaying on longterm moorings and hadn’t done very much active restoration since the Caldon Canal had been reopened in 1974. There were murmurings about doing things down at Froghall and at the end of the Leek Arm. After a few years funding became available though the EDF (European Development Fund) and British Waterways were involved with the project. What we put into the project was £45,000 worth of volunteer work as matched funding. It’s opened up the first lock of the Uttoxeter Canal and the Caldon and Uttoxeter Canals Trust (as it’s now [known]). The basin was completely overgrown, most people didn’t know it was there. If you have visited Froghall, which is the terminus of the Caldon Canal, there’s a pretty wharf, a little carpark, ice cream shop; people wouldn’t know that the basin was there. You could see where the canal went off it if you knew what you were looking for – the top end of the lock had been filled in and you could walk down the lock chamber.

Q: What work did WRG do? A: The tree felling – WRG forestry were very

Martin Ludgate

involved: Tenko, Sparky, Alison, and Clive. They would come up – there were several weekends when we had WRG-NW or London WRG coming up for the weekend – they would come up the day before and fell some trees so that we had something to get started on. We had 3 canal camps: the first was led by Mike Palmer, the second by Helen Gardner and I think there was another one . What happened was: towards the end of the project I “Quite an occasion” - Froghall reopening discovered I was expecting a baby so I handed over my role to John Ryder. I think there was another camp just before the reopening – that Easter. I wasn’t involved then because I had a tiny baby to look after. July 2005 was the reopening and that was quite an occasion; we had the first boats come down the lock into the basin. So that was quite an achievement and it was really good to have been involved with that project. Hopefully we’ll have some work coming up further down the canal later this year [2010]. Recently I’ve just become work party organiser again. We had a feasibility study completed last year which says it is feasible, even where a lot of people might think that’s a bit of a dead duck because you’ve got some quite tight confines in the valley with the [derelict] railway. There are odd bits of canal that remain but most of it is now the line of the railway which is now a popular footpath. Basically it’s feasible and it’ll cost about 90 million.

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Q: What’s the appeal of the Caldon and Uttoxeter Canals? A: I first went along the Caldon Canal in 1990 when I was still living on my boat. I gave up my job and spent 6 months travelling round most of the canal system. The Caldon Canal was my favourite canal, I happened to be going along it in May when the bluebells were out and it left an impression on me. I never dreamt I would be living on it. Then when Rupert and I were looking for somewhere to live out of London we were fortunate enough to come by the cottage that we live in now. 1998 we were heading north to the Salford National Festival and we’d allowed a few extra days in the schedule to do the Caldon Canal, because Rupert hadn’t done it. We went along the canal and went round the bend by what is now our house, and went aground as you tend to do in Ben and deep draughted working boats in general. The people in the garden passed the time of day with us and it turned out that they knew Rupert vaguely and they knew the boat particularly. Then the following year we were at the Braunston Boat Show (before it moved to Crick) and we were chatting to these people and Rupert said ‘that’s a nice place you’ve got there on the Caldon’ and he (Mike Dobson) said ‘it is, isn’t it – do you want to buy it?’. It turned out they were looking to move and they were very keen to sell the house to someone who was going to carry on being involved. It’s quite an interesting house from that point of view because the people who bought it in the 1960s were some of the original founders of the Caldon Canal Society (Ben Fradley – he was secretary for quite a long time). Then Mike and Shirley Dobson had been involved as secretary and treasurer. If you go back before that in the 1930s,40s and 50s the house was lived in by a family who ran a horse boat for Bolton Copper Works.

Q: What have you done within the IWA? A: When we moved to Staffordshire I had couple of months off and then about the 2nd newsletter we got said they were desperate for a secretary so I thought ‘oh well – I suppose I’d better go back to it then’. I’ve been secretary more or less ever since – I had 2 years as chairman but one of those I was secretary and chairman. I’ve also been on the IWA region committee for most of those years. I also spent 6 years as an elected council member on IWA council. That was fascinating: I got quite involved in the navigation committee – quite enjoyed being in working groups formulating policies on locks and movable bridges and towing paths and things. I used to do the minutes for the navigation committee meetings. Then being on council was quite an experience as well actually – just the responsibility of being a trustee of a national charity. The only council meeting I missed in those 6 years was the one about a week after I’d had Peter – I was back on board 2 months later. By the time the 2nd term came to an end Peter was about 18 months old and I thought it was time to give it a break. Then about 2 years later I ended up doing about 18 months as Western Region Chairman just prior to the reorganisation of the IWA regions.

Q: You’ve recently been awarded an MBE – can you talk us through that? A: I opened this letter on a Saturday afternoon and I just didn’t believe it. I thought ‘no – they’ve made a mistake’ so I had to phone the cabinet office on the Monday to say ‘are you sure?’. I was assured yes you’ve been awarded an MBE – are you going to accept? I had to send the forms back and I ticked the box that said I would be prepared for some publicity because I thought the canals would then benefit out of it. But I then regretted it when I had to be interviewed on Radio Stoke at 8am in the morning of the day it was announced, having lain awake all night worrying about what questions I was going to be asked. I feel very much that I’m part of a team really especially locally. Stoke on Trent branch and the Caldon and Uttoxeter Canals Trust – the two organisations work quite closely together and we all work quite well as a team. So I don’t really feel like I deserve to be singled out in anyway. I’m very honoured but there’s lots of people who deserve it just as much as me. I’m also secretary of the Historic Narrow Boat Owners Club and we had the AGM on the Saturday, on the Wednesday was the ceremony at Buckingham Palace, the Friday of the same week was the IWA branch AGM, quickly followed by region AGM, then a committee meeting and Mothering Sunday. So it was the worst possible week that the Queen could have invited me but it was good – it was quite an experience. We stayed down for a couple of nights and we met up with a few London WRG people in the pub afterwards.

Q: What did you say to the Queen? A: She asked me ‘what my involvement was with the waterways’ – because she’d been primed. This was after I’d had to curtsey and walk forwards to this little stage she was standing on. I replied that I’d been involved helping organise events, lots of administration and minutes. I’ve done 300 and something sets of minutes in my 17 years. I think I mentioned canal restoration as well. She said that she understood that canals were very popular these days – to which I replied – yes they are but there’s still a lot of work to be

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done because of the funding cuts. At the point she offered me her hand which was an indication that the interview was at an end. So I shook her hand, stepped 3 or 4 steps backwards as instructed, curtsied again and went away. In the meantime she’d pinned the medal onto my dress.

Q: The BCN Marathon Challenges – tell us about that? A: The BCN Marathon Challenge was an event that was run by Helen and Chris Davey and Alan Jervis – it ran for about 10 years. We took part for about 8 of those 10 years mostly on Ben, one year we joined people on Fulbourne. It was an amazing intense 24 hours of boating – mostly pulling on ropes, pushing with poles and getting stuck in the mud, going aground, having to clear the propeller, having to go into the canal to clear the propeller. It was started because there was a perceived threat to navigation at night. So Helen, Chris and Alan decided to formulate an event that involved having to boat through the night to prove the point that we could boat through the night. The first event ran for 24 hours, subsequently they changed the rules so that you could moor up for 6 hours. You had to boat for 24 hours out of 30 – we tended to have our 6 hours rest in the pub. We aimed to get 6 or 7 people on board for the weekend and have a bit of sleep in shifts. I remember we went into Netherton Tunnel in the dark at 4 o’clock in the morning one year and as we went underneath each air shaft we looked up and it was getting lighter. It was quite light by the time we came out the other end. We ended up in the first series of Water World. We had this cameraman on board for the best part of the day on the Sunday - Ed Walker nearly knocked him in the canal with one end of the pole. We had a good team on board that year.

Q: Have you done any canal camps? A: Only parts of camps - I did part of one at the London Canal Museum in the ice pits. That’s probably about it really! The National Festival I’m always there with my IWA hat on.

Q: What would you say WRG’s greatest achievement has been? A: Generally, the increased number of available miles to navigate – especially back in the last 10 years. 2001 2002 there were a lot of waterways being reopened and although WRG haven’t done all that work, a lot of it’s down to the canal societies, WRG are there to support the societies and provide the manpower when needed.

Q: What would you say WRG was good at? A: Encompassing everybody – everybody and anybody is welcome. That’s what I notice quite a lot. On the camps we had at Froghall the Duke of Edinburgh people were made to feel just as welcome, we had some from overseas. It’s quite laid back – there’s not that much bureaucracy – we obviously have to do health and safety paperwork. That’s changed a lot in the 18 years I’ve been involved – we used to go to the pub at lunchtimes with London WRG when I was first digging. It seems to work as an organisation.

Q: Who has inspired you? A: I suppose Tim Lewis must have inspired me on that first December social meeting. Since then – Martin Ludgate – from the first London WRG drink that I went to – inspired me with his enthusiasm. And Neil Edwards has inspired me particularly with the IWA side of things rather than WRG – he’s been my mentor I would say.

Q: What’s the most useful skill you’ve learnt and who did you learn it from? A: Early on I remember my dad being particularly proud of the fact that I’d spent the previous weekend being trained how to drive a dumper. I think that got mentioned in his speech at our wedding.

Q: What has changed for canal restoration? A: There’s definitely more health and safety related things – which is obviously good. Apart from that not a lot has changed about going on a dig: lots of fresh air, hard work, just getting on with it.

Q: Where do you see WRG’s future? A: Hopefully carrying on what we’re doing now – that would be good. With British Waterways looking to move into the third sector it ought to become easier to work on a wider range of projects. Let’s hope it does become easier. I think there’s more scope for getting more people involved although I think there’s a danger that British Waterways and WRG are going to be fighting for the same volunteers. British Waterways seem to be going down the lines of it’s not about working in partnership with existing volunteer organisations – it’s about getting their own volunteers. There’s only a certain amount of people in this country who are going to volunteer on the waterways. IWA and WRG might find it harder.

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40 years on

Primark has replaced C&A as main supplier of WRGie fashions, but has anything else changed in four decades?

Then and now Then and Now

As WRG approaches its 40th birthday, it’s amazing to think how things have changed since the beginning. In 1970, the waterways were run down and neglected by government, funding was hard to come by and WRG was a rag tag bunch of poorly organised eccentrics in C+A cagoules desperately trying to make a difference. Fortunately things are very different now: we no longer have C+A. Here are some other differences between then and now: THEN

NOW Spanking new village hall paid for with Millennium Commission funds.

Dingy scout hut with picture commemorating the Queen’s coronation.

The accommodation

Dark smoky den with violently patterned carpets and a ‘family room’. Beer 2 shillings (10p) a pint.

The pub

Dark, smoke-free den with violently patterned carpets and a wide-screen TV. Beer £3.20 a pint.

Dusty old Bee Gees tape found in glove compartment

The music

Dusty old Bee Gees CD found in glove compartment

Pie and a couple pints in the nearest pub. Marathon bar for treats.


Muttered warning about lime mortar, box of sticking plasters

Health & safety

90 minute H+S talk including video, full first aid kit and we’re saving up for a defibrillator

Bell bottomed trousers tucked into wellies, woolly jumper, C+A cagoule

The gear

Supermarket jeans tucked into steellies, woolly jumper, Primark cagoule

Despairing of British Waterways Board

The politics

Despairing of British Waterways (formerly known as BW Board)

To restore the canal network for the benefit of all, hopefully with help from the new Tory government

The motivation

To restore the canal network for the benefit of all, hopefully with help from the new mostly-Tory government

An ambitious and energetic Palmer

The leadership

A different ambitious and energetic Palmer

Sandwich with wholemeal bread, baked-not-fried crisps and a piece of fruit. Mr Kipling for treats.

page 23

Navvies diary Your guide to all the forthcoming work parties Aug 21 Sat WRG

40th Birthday Party at the IWA National Festival site, Beale Park

Aug 22 Sun EAWA/NWDCT North Walsham & Dilham Canal: Bacton Wood area Aug 23-Sep 2Camp 201020

National Festival at Beale Park: Site Services. Cost £80. Leaders: Mitch

Aug 28-30


Bhaji stand at National, Beale Park

Sep 3-9


Wendover Arm: Seven-day weekend. Stage 2 pipe capping and moorin

Sep 4/5

Essex WRG

Lichfield & Hatherton Canals

Sep 4 Sat


‘Paper Chase’ waste paper collection

Sep 5 Sun

EAWA/NWDCT North Walsham & Dilham Canal: Bacton Wood area

Sep 11/12


Cotswold Canals: Eisey Lock. Dig Deep project

Sep 11/12

London WRG

Cotswold Canals: Goughs Orchard Lock. Joint with WRG SW, and includes

Sep 11/12


Wey & Arun Canal

Sep 11/12


Cotswold Canals: Gough’s Orchard Lock. Joint dig with London WRG.

Sep 18/19


Lichfield Canal: Joint dig with BITM.

Sep 18/19


Lichfield Canal: Joint dig with wrgNW.

Sep 19 Sun EAWA/NWDCT North Walsham & Dilham Canal: Honing Staithe Cut Sep 19 Sun WRG

Committee & Board Meetings

Oct 1-7


Wendover Arm: Seven-day weekend. Stage 2 pipe capping and moorin

Oct 2/3


Wey & Arun Canal

Oct 2/3

Essex WRG

Foxton Inclined Plane: (Accommodation at Lubenham)

Oct 2/3

London WRG

Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation

Oct 9 Sat


‘Paper Chase’ waste paper collection

Oct 10 Sun EAWA/NWDCT North Walsham & Dilham Canal: Briggate Oct 16/17


Hollinwood Canal

Oct 16/17


Grantham Canal: Cropwell Bishop. Scrub bashing and stump pulling near Josh

Oct 16/17

London WRG

To be arranged, maybe Ipswich

Oct 23/24


Grand Western Canal: Start of week-long camp

Oct 23-30

Camp 201021

Grand Western Canal: Scrub bashing, tree felling, restoration work in th

Oct 23-30

Camp 201022

Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation: Bank protection, painting, towpath c

Oct 24 Sun EAWA/NWDCT North Walsham & Dilham Canal: Briggate Nov 5-11


Wendover Arm: Seven-day weekend. Stage 2 pipe capping and moorin

Nov 6/7


Reunion Bonfire Bash: Montgomery Canal. Please book using form on

Nov 6/7


WRG Reunion Bonfire Bash on the Montgomery Canal

Nov 6/7


WRG Reunion Bonfire Bash on the Montgomery Canal

Nov 6/7

London WRG

WRG Reunion Bonfire Bash on the Montgomery Canal

page 24

Canal Camps cost ÂŁ56 per week unless otherwise stated. Bookings for WRG Canal Camps (those identified by a camp number e.g. 'Camp 201020') should go to WRG Canal Camps, Island House, Moor Road, Chesham HP5 1WA. Tel: 01494 783453. Email: Jude Palmer


David Revill



Eddie Jones


Roger Leishman


John Gale


David McCarthy


David Revill


Eddie Jones


Tim Lewis


Bill Nicholson


Harri Barnes


David McCarthy


Dave Wedd


David Revill


Mike Palmer


Roger Leishman


Eddie Jones


John Gale


Tim Lewis


David McCarthy


David Revill


David McCarthy


Dave Wedd


Tim Lewis


Harri Barnes


he main chamber of Nynehead Lift


clearance and general repairs.


David Revill


Roger Leishman



David McCarthy


Eddie Jones


Tim Lewis


Gozna and Kirsty Wallace

ng wall.

s half-AGM

ng wall.

hua Manns Bridge.

ng wall.

page 7

page 25

Navvies diary Canal societies’ regular working parties Amendments to Dave Wedd (see previous page) Once per month: pls check 2nd Sunday & alternate Thurs Anytime inc. weekdays Every Sunday Every Tue & Wed Every Saturday 2nd & last Sunday of month 4th Sunday of month Second Sun of month 2nd weekend of month 2nd Sat of month Tuesdays Weekends Wednesdays Weekends Every Sunday if required 2nd Sunday of month 1st, 2nd, 4th Sun + 3rd Sat 3rd Sunday of month 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


page 26

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

BCN waterways Buckingham area Aqueduct section Various sites Chelmer & Blackwater Droitwich Canal N Walsham & Dilham Langley Mill Foxton Inclined Plane Grantham Canal Nynehead Lift Oxenhall Over Wharf House Over Wharf House Hereford Aylestone Bugsworth Basin Lancaster N. Reaches Lichfield Hatherton 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


Mobile groups' socials (please phone to confirm)

Birmingham Canal Navigations Soc. Buckingham Canal Society Bude Canal Trust Chesterfield Canal Trust Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation Cotswolds Canals Trust Droitwich Canals Trust East Anglian Waterways Association Erewash Canal Pres. & Devt. Assoc. Foxton Inclined Plane Trust Grantham Canal Restoration Society Grand Western Canal Trust Hereford & Gloucester Canal Trust Inland Waterways Protection Society Kennet & Avon Canal Trust Kent & E Sussex Canal Rest. Group


Mike Rolfe Athina Beckett Gerald Fry Mick Hodgetts John Gale Jon Axe David Revill Michael Golds Mike Beech Colin Bryan Denis Dodd Brian Fox Maggie Jones Wilf Jones Martin Danks Ian Edgar Paul Shaw Sue Williams Denis Cooper 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

Dear Martin Regarding your editorial comments about British Waterways, volunteers, trade unions etc: My knowledge of British Waterways Board/Volunteers issues from the distant past seems to be bound up with the state of the country’s finances as well as the elephantine memories of the unionised labour force. It is not surprising that when the existence of jobs is not looking too reliable then the guys should be worried about theirs. However, we found in early WRG days that “Volunteers” to trade unions still meant strikebusters, as though the 1926 General Strike was but yesterday. Students of that time will remember that “Volunteers” were people who kept services going and thus were in direct opposition to unions. It is vital that the waterway movement in general engage with the unions represented on the canals and rivers to show that we have only ever been interested in doing what BWB had no intention of doing themselves. Until 1968 the government had a duty to maintain the waterways (but did not do so) and afterwards undertook to maintain the “cruiseways”, albeit to a much reduced standard. With only a couple of exceptions we refused to do anything on the track that BWB were supposed to maintain - and I guess that is still so. The exceptions were where we undertook exercises to shame the BWB, and always, always to gain publicity for the cause. We can restore very little ourselves, and have no chance of providing sensible maintenance so we must support BWB in finding ways and means of funding their work. Modern volunteers may well give a good deal of help in that, if the workers are shown on what basis people volunteer. As to recent apparent BWB cock-ups: Do the men understand why they are being asked to support volunteers? How good is the management of the labour force? Come to that, how good is the labour force? Ex boatmen and long serving “canal company” men are a thing of the past; have they been replaced by people of quality? How dedicated to work are they, or are they simply hacked off with crap management and lack of funding? Did the managers plan the support of our people in a timely manner, or did they ask that stop planks be delivered if and when they have time for it? As we approach a tighter budget for everything, yet wish to do things that may quite easily be seen as threatening against a

Letters to the editor long time background of very mixed progress for BWB; the waterway movement together needs to build contacts at all levels with the workforce. It needs to be the first call on IWA. I point out that the volunteer movement on the waterways, leading up to the start of WRG, was because IWA was doing bugger all (with the notable exception of the Birmingham Branch). I am long retired from such struggles, but I do hope that IWA has more gumption than then. I am heartened that WRG still seems to delightfully active. Mike Day Dear Martin My partner Linda and I have just finished our first camp (Montgomery 3 – 10 July), and what a good experience it was. A fantastic group of people, a good mix of male and female, and age ranges from teens to those in the autumn of our lives (or early winter in my case). I think most of us enjoyed hte work and after a few days had become expert stone wall builders! Happy to make mention of a few people who made the week go well. Firstly Claire (Dippy) and Any who worked tirelessly in the kitchen to produce fantastic meals all week. Also Steve Harmes and Chris Colborne the camp leaders, who managed to organise us into a reasonably efficient workforce. They also had to drive us to site each day, then again several miles to the local swimming pool for showers daily, not to mention numerous diversions to local supermarkets. Finally and probably the worst sacrifice, having to stay sober on evenings out to the local pub! Medals should be awarded. Be nice to think that we shall all meet up again one day. Yours sincerely Mike Bothwell PS if you ever do another worst job survey, can I nominate counting equipment at end of camp, especially small items? I can only assume there must have been some historic event in the past eg the Great Ear Plug and Teaspoon Robbery of 1998...

page 27

The Survey Bogs, pubs and interviewees...

7% of volunteers might not know what gender they are, but they know what kind of toilet they want!

40 interviews: who next? We ran two surveys in the last issue, one serious and one perhaps slightly less so. First let’s hear from Helen Gardner about the interviewees survey: Possibly our most serious survey to date and the results are in: who would you like to see interviewed in the ‘40 views for 40 years’ series? And the winners are myself and Mr Mac. There have already been murmurings about interviewing me with several volunteers offering to conduct the interview – I have caved in. The intention is to make me number 40 thus putting off the inevitable for ages. Of course the series would not be complete without interviewing Mr Mac and the interview was started but delayed owing to technical difficulties; however it will recommence soon. And yes we will address the concept of ‘valuable merchandise’ – it’s not tat. Most of the other suggestions were already on my list of potential victims so good to know we’re all thinking along the same lines apart from: (a) Graham Palmer on account that he died many years ago and (b) I’m not interviewing a teddy bear. Forthcoming interviews will include Bungle and Mick Beattie. Finally to the person who suggested interviewing Martin Ludgate – I suggest you go back to the beginning of the series and read the first interview because we’ve already interviewed him – glad it was a riveting read – I can’t imagine it would get more interesting second time round... Helen Gardner

Places to go... We had an unusually large response rate for our Navvies loo survey. More than two thirds of respondants were men so perhaps it was no surprise that 80% of respondants were quite happy behind a bush. Only 7% of respondants insisted on walking to the nearest proper lavatory. And only 17% would actually walk more than 10 minutes for a proper indoor loo and if you’ve visited Eisey you’ll know that it often isn’t worth the effort of getting there! Of men: Only 10% would rather have a toilet tent, the vast majority being quite happy behind a bush. Over 93% wouldn’t walk more than 10 minutes from site for a proper indoor loo. Of women: Whilst 50% were quite happy behind a bush, 15% insisted on at least a toilet tent and over 30% preferred to walk to an indoor toilet. 30% were willling to walk up to 15 minutes to the nearest proper facilities. Other: Around 7% of respondants considered their gender to be ‘other’. Although this small group claimed to be quite happy behind a bush, 50% would walk ‘a thousand miles’ to use a proper indoor lavatory. Go figure. And the next survey: OK we’ve dealt with getting rid of bodily liquids, so now let’s consider the other side of the equation. We want to know your favourite pubs where waterways volunteers drink. Nominate your best one at

Do you have a favourite WRGies’ pub? Nominate it at page 28

Our regular roundup of progress around the system begins in the south on the Wey & Arun Canal...

Progress Wey & Arun Canal

the public and demonstrate the ‘green corridor’ concept which establishes the restored Following the opening of Devil’s Hole Lock canal as a universal amenity. attention has moved to the next lock in the WACT is cooperating with the Loxwood River Wey direction, namely Southland. This Society and the local Parish Council in a fund is the one where a badger sett now occupies raising exercise to provide new parapets for the site of the former lock bridge and is the main road bridge, opened in 2009. The adding to the complications. WACT has to go current metal railings were demanded by the through a planning application procedure, highway authority, and few people like their and although the local wildlife conservation appearance, so the plan is – again subject to experts are happy with the restoration proplanning permission - to replace them with posals, any other comments have to be brick-faced concrete walls topped with a less carefully considered by Chichester DC before obtrusive railing, which should satisfy both permission can be granted and work started. aesthetic and safety standards. The proposal is to move the lock about 10m As always, volunteer work continues further ‘upstream’ – which won’t be as difficult with new projects and maintenance of existas it sounds, as all of the original brick walls ing sections along the length of the canal, have been ‘recycled’ so a complete rebuild with different working parties active almost would be needed anyway. The training walls every day of the week. Details at the web site will extend southwards past the badger sett, (as above) to prevent flooding of the tunnels. Bill Thomson Before tacking the lock, Eric Walker’s working group has been rebuilding the culvert below the lock site. A presently neglected area near the River Wey junction is to benefit from landscaping work thanks to a generous six-figure bequest from the Ed and Doris Hunt Memorial Fund. The Hunts came from Loxwood, so knew the canal, and the plans for improvements at Shalford are just the sort of conservation project of which they would have approved. Although it is too soon fora return to navigation here, the work Rebuilding under way on the culvert below Southland Lock will open the area to WACT

Wey & Arun Canal

page 29

Progress North Walsham & Dilham

...and continues with news of some good progress on a rather obscure waterway in deepest Norfolk...

Former Wherry Inn at Royston Bridge: This old pub lies beside the canal Generally speaking, 2009-10 has been a year on the Bacton Road out of North Walsham. of great progress for the North Walsham & The canal here is dry and has not been Dilham Canal Trust. Mindful of the fact that worked on by us at all. After contacting and work does not only mean wielding a shovel meeting the owner, Mrs Harvey (a lovely lady and saw, we have launched ourselves at the who walked me for miles!) we had just one ‘administration’ of the country. To this end, work party there to make a start in that meetings have been held with Natural Engregion. The original breach in the canal is land (and they have no objections to the some 400 yards north of that bridge and it is rebuilding of the locks – in writing!), The planned to continue clearing this stretch of Broads Authority (albeit our work lies outside all trees and bushes in the coming year their area of navigational jurisdiction), and (2010-11). North Norfolk District Council Environment Bacton Wood Lock: More progress Health Services, (re flooding in the North made here than could have been envisaged! Walsham area and the lessening thereof by Mr Laurie Ashton, using his Hymac cleared re-enabling the powers of the canal). Liaison out the old gates and debris from the lock with Mrs Harvey (owner of the former chamber and revealed the original timber Wherry Inn); Mr A Paterson; the directors of base. He cleared the paddle chambers of the North Walsham Canal Co; the directors of debris including barbed wire, bricks, metal the Old Canal Company (Mr & Mrs L Ashton) bars and concrete. They are in remarkably and speaking with Norfolk County Council good condition and do not need any work (Footpaths, highways and bridges) and other carrying out to them before re-use. Using his land owners adjacent to the canal and mill own bricklayer, after our brick-removal anponds at Ebridge and Briggate, with a meet- tics, the re-construction has progressed very ing planned with the owner of land adjacent well and now one can see the paddle gear to Swafield Bridge (the most northerly point re-installed to one side of the mouth with the of our canal area). other set of gear ready to go in. Some parts Through a contact made by Ivan Cane, of the chamber walls have also been rewe ‘assisted’ during a programme on BBC Radio Norfolk called Treasure Quest in which I placed a ‘clue’ on the paddle gear at Ebridge Lock. This was duly found by the field team and broadcast to the known world (i.e. Norfolk!). Following this I received a call from the producer of the programme with an invitation to go to BBC Radio Norfolk’s studios in Norwich and to take place in about 20 minutes of air time. Chris Black (my number one and vice-chairman of the NW&DC Trust) accompanied my there. Very good advertising! We held a total of 21 work Bacton Wood Lock parties on the following seven sites: NW&DCT

North Walsham & Dilham Canal

page 30

bricked. A shed (enormous!) has been built to permit the construction of lock gates in a protected environment. Exciting times! Ebridge area: Most of the work carried out here has been concentrated on the removal of trees and debris from the canal bed and banks northwards from the lock in the direction of Bacton Wood Lock. Some other work has been done to the trees interfering with the BT cables over the mill pond wall. A dredger has now been launched into the mill pond in readiness for work in that pond and upstream. There is still a land ownership question to the east of the lock. Briggate Mill Pond: This is an area where I do feel a little disappointed that we could not have gone further – but then the British weather does have a lot to answer for! The Team has performed absolutely brilliantly here and such a change has taken place. The boundaries of the mill pond have been set (according to those taken from the old ordnance survey drawings) and part of the inlet from the canal dredged. The chamber island is slowly being rebuilt with the spoil, but so much needs to be done. However, by the end of the coming season (also interfered with by the bird nesting period) we should have all of the brash and hopefully all the required trees out of the way, making this a place to sit and watch the world go by. Honing Staithe Cut and walk: This area has been worked on, not as a new project any more, but as an improvement plan to that which we have already achieved. There was a lot to do, and still is, but progress has been made and the betterN ment can be readily seen. The walk, both along the sides of the Cut and also along the bank of the canal and on its return through the wood towards Weavers Way, is exceptionally well used and local people do talk about it in a fa-

vourable way. The Canal Walk has also received a “Community Highly Commended” Environment Award 2009 from the North Norfolk District Council. Honing Canal – Between the cut and Honing Lock: This is a difficult area! However, with co-operation once more from Mr A Paterson, we have made great progress along the western bank that it only needs a further couple of work parties to see us through to the lock. The banks will present a problem owing to lack of access for plant, but I can see that being overcome in due time. Honing Lock: With only two work parties here in the year, it has been a case of clearing up rather than progressing further. However, with plans now in place for portage points for the canoes, the future is not looking too disappointing in this area. Plant access to the lock, and canal water diversion from it, for when re-building can take place has already been brought to the attention of the NWCCo for consideration. David E Revill Work Party Organiser [From the annual report of the North Walsham & Dilham Canal Trust to the East Anglian Waterways Association]

The North Walsham and Dilham Canal

page 31

Lichfield & Hatherton Canals


Work at Tamworth Road on the Lichfield Canal has slowed with the bywash project at Lock 25 approaching completion. The news that the Trust has been awarded £35,000 Section 106 money is therefore very timely. Our engineers and project planners have been looking at ways of getting the maximum benefit from this grant which will be used to progress the plans for watering Pound 26, using the flow located in the “Big Pipe” (a land drain laid in the bed of the canal after it closed). There are several highly technical drainage issues to be resolved, especially a surface water drain which will “drown” if it remains in its current location. Contractors will be used for much of the scheme but there will also be plenty for the volunteers to do. On the Hatherton we are talking to British Waterways about the removal of the infill from the Lord Hayes Branch from its junction with the Wyrley and Essington at Pelsall to Fishley Lane Bridge. Progress here will allow us to start Phase 1 of the Hatherton restoration along the line confirmed by Atkins (which will use a new cut from the original Hatherton route near Churchbridge to the Lord Hayes Branch, rather than entering the W&E via the Cannock Extension as the original route did) when they revised the Arup Report.

L&H and Sussex Ouse Good progress at Isfield Lock: Following a very dry spring in the southeast the volunteer groups working on the restoration of Isfield Lock on the River Ouse were able to begin work earlier in the season whilst enjoying good conditions on site. The Trust has acquired a good condition two tonne dumper, so vital given the amount of spoil and earth that will require moving about the site during the next phase of the restoration. After the restoration of the east chamber wall and the upper and lower east wing walls, the next phase involves the restoration of the west wall. Prior to work beginning the Trust was anticipating that this task would occupy at least five years work, restoring short sections per year. However hopes were raised somewhat once digging out behind the first section of the wall began when it was soon apparent that the wall, or certainly the first section tackled, was in better shape than anticipated. However the reinforcement of the first section still demanded the removal of a considerable amount of spoil and the new dumper came into its own. At the time of writing the digging out of that first section is complete and the reinforced concrete structure designed to stabilise and support the wall is being built. Demolition of the inner lock wall down to the depth of an identified fault line is also underway and this will be re-built prior to work progressing onto the next section. So the progress made this year is already very satisfying and the mood is upbeat. If work continues at this pace the predicted time required to complete the entire length of the west wall could be shorter than first predicted. The once daunting task perhaps does not look quite so daunting after all. But as everyone is no doubt aware, with restoration work one never knows what is around the corner? Terry Owen

page 32


Sussex Ouse

Isfield Lock: preparing to concrete behind the wall

Finally on the Wendover Arm they’ve finished reinstating the first stage of the dry section and started the second


Wendover Arm

Once the bund was completed work on the bulk excavation and pipe capping for Stage 2 commenced in earnest. Pipe capping has now been completed to peg 40, the first 100 metres out of the 350 metres of Stage 2. Ken Graves led clearance of the towpath where the Stage 2 mooring bay is to be constructed and, on Tuesday, he and Richard Berry manfully thumped in a row of posts ready for chestnut fencing to protect the mooring bay working area. By the end of the working party Ray Orth and his team had dismantled the chestnut fencing from Stage 1 up to and including the mooring bay and erected the chestnut fencing at the Stage 2 mooring bay and extended the plastic fencing right through to this mooring bay. The plastic fencing has been left along the towpath bank of Stage 1, where both banks have been sown with grass seed, until the new vegetation is established. The access steps have been relocated at the Drayton Beauchamp end of the mooring bay site. For more details of the Wendover restoration work see Wendover Arm Trust’s website Roger Leishman


May Working Party: The last 80 metres of bed lining of the Stage 1 length were completed as well as the bulk of the temporary bund just leaving it to settle before placing the Bentomat core and covering it at the June working party. Progress was also made in clearing the banks ready for excavation and backfilling in Stage 2 (the next 350 metres of lining and a 50 metre long mooring bay), KESCRG poured another base of the mooring wall at Bridge 4 and re-erected the formwork ready for another pour. They also cleaned the steel formwork in preparation for the first wall section. KESCRG also started the excavations at Whitehouses to identify what lies below ground level and were very successful in finding a settling tank. They dug a trench parallel to the wharf wall with the three outlets and found they were directly above the wall of a settling tank that is the other end of the three outlets. Further excavation exposed a baffle across the tank. June Working Party: On Friday 4th June the Bentomat core was laid and sealed across the face of the bund and covered with spoil from the Stage 2 excavations The burning question – was it watertight? While the new bund was being completed during the morning, Jenny Brice and Bob Barry excavated a trench through the existing bund at the end of the 60 metre test length, enabling the rest of the stage 1 length to be rewatered. The water was deliberately let through slowly so that there was minimal reduction in the flow of water from Wendover into the pipeline and it was not until Tuesday morning that the full ‘Wendover’ water level was reached and the bund found to be watertight.

Wendover Arm

The Stage 1 length rewatered

page 33

Looking back The WRG NW sales stand

Brian Lomas reflects on canal society sales stands, and in particular the early days of the WRG North West stand...

with slogans which implored you to “Restore the Rochdale” or “Free the Rochdale Nine” As I write these notes, the Waterway and, rather bizarrely, bottles of Rochdale Recovery Group (North West) van, complete Canal water which carried the warning “NOT with sales stand, will be returning from tile TO BE TAKEN”. IWA National Trailboat Festival on the The one lasting memory I have of the Monmouthshire and Brecon Canal. A journey RCS stand is being asked at short notice to that is no doubt being replicated by other man it at Leigh Boat Rally c. 1975. societies and organisations up and down the As I was intending to visit the rally with country. a family friend, Jack Youngman, this didn’t The sales stand is now very much part really present a problem. The arrangement of the rally scene and can be good for gener- was that Jack and myself would make our ating income, recruiting new members, way to Leigh and would look after the stand raising the profile of the body they represent, until reinforcements arrived. They would or simply seeing how many cups of tea can then see us through to the end of the day be drunk in a day. when Brian Holden, Secretary of the RCS, Here are some unreliable memories would give us a lift home. from the early days of the Rochdale Canal That was the theory, but in practice, Society and WRG NW... things did not go according to plan.The My own involvement began with the departure from site was delayed when Brian embryonic RCS in the mid 1970s. Their sales got “talking to someone”. Eventually we all stand was actually a caravan, in front of piled into an old Commer van. It was very which a table would be positioned, onto noisy and slow. The noise made conversation which an array of canal books and memoradifficult, but this was possibly a blessing in bilia would be placed. These included badges disguise as, earlier in the day Jack, without

Frank Wallder

“Has Anyone Seen The Brackets?”

Still going strong: the WRG NW stand seen recently at the Welsh Waterways Festival

page 34

“Fortunately he didn’t have the ignominy of having to play the organ dressed like Fred Dibnah”

Looking back The WRG NW sales stand

realising who he was talking to, had told Brian in no uncertain terms that he would never restore the Rochdale. The speed of the vehicle, on the other hand, was a different matter. The East Lancs Road was a very long road and this was a very slow van. Brian Holden was due back in Rochdale for 6pm in order to play the church organ and it was turned 5pm before we left. A plan was therefore hatched to take the van straight to the church, whereupon Brian’s brother would take over the wheel and drive Jack and myself back to Pendlebury and Moston respectively. Fortunately Brian, whether attending a meeting, a working party or a boat rally, would be attired as a church organist (Jack and myself were in old clothes covered in dust and oil). So when we finally arrived at Rochdale Methodist Church, well after 6 pm, at least he didn’t have the ignominy of having to play the organ dressed like Fred Dibnah. It was not long after the Leigh Rally that I came to meet David and Nancy McCarthy (Mr & Mrs Mac) whilst I was manning the RCS stand at Collac (the camping and outdoor leisure exhibition at Belle Vue). Mr & Mrs Mac were on the adjacent WRG NW stand selling copious amounts of Uncle Joe’s Mint Balls, whilst I was trying forlornly to sell bottles of Rochdale Canal Water. They looked on demurely, eyed up their prey, waited patiently and then pounced. By the end of the day I had signed up to Navvies, been recruited to the ranks of the WRG NW working party and become hopelessly addicted to strong cups of tea and broken biscuits. As WRG NW in the 70s or early 80s had a number of prime movers of a mechanical and engineering bent, this influence was reflected in the construction of their sales stand. I was introduced to its mysteries at the Tameside Canals Festival c.1982. To put it briefly the stand consisted of many parts, most of them very heavy and unwieldy. This presented two problems. In

the absence of a check list, key components were often left behind and, even if everything had been remembered, no-one could quite recollect what went where. This was more of a problem than it might have seemed as it was easy to incorrectly interlock the uprights and crossbars Before you realised it you had inadvertently created, as someone pointed out, a 3-dimensional equivalent of an Escher drawing. It then took considerable effort and manpower to de-construct the thing. Once constructed the laying out of the wares on the stand was relatively straightforward. Much of the stuff was pretty similar to other canal society stands. That was, with the exception of an interesting collection of odds and ends. If I was to be polite, I would describe It as bric-a-brac, but if I was to be honest, it was tat. Nevertheless, as WRG NW sales staff excelled at selling stuff that most people didn’t know they needed or wanted, this rich collection of junk didn’t stay on the stand too long. There was though one item which proved to be the exception to this rule. A full tea service, which, I believe, was an unwanted wedding present, refused to budge. The service was a design classic of its time, but unfortunately looked as if it had been glazed with oily canal water from Worsley. In the absence of finding anyone remotely interested in buying the service, it was decided to raffle it off. A good number of tickets were sold at 5p a go. The prize draw was made and the winner announced. Much to everyone’s surprise the winner even collected his prize, but returned it five minutes later, saying his wife wouldn’t have it in the house. As to what happened to the tea service, I’m not too sure. I just hope I don’t hear Mr Mac utter those immortal words: “You’ll never guess what I found in the cellar...” Brian Lomas This article has been reproduced from the Hollinwood Canal Society newsletter.

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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

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Training The Training Day at Goughs Orchard

Richard Worthington

Richard Worthington

Richard Worthington

In place of the usual WRG Training Weekend, this year we held a training day on-site on our major Canal Camps work site for this summer at Goughs Orchard. We reckoned it was generally a success and hope to have something broadly similar next year. Here are a few photos of what we got up to. Above right: the bricklaying theory (including a lego set!) was followed (right) by the practical on site. Meanwhile on vans and trailers Harry looked after the rear end (below) while MK2 kept an eye on the front (below right)

Alan Lines

Training at Goughs Orchard

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Camp Report Welsh Waterways Festival Mon & Brec Trailboat Festival

Wednesday. Having checked on the site and next mornings work with Chris (Morgan, o/c M&B), we retreated to Risca to unpack and prepare for the fray and enjoy the first of Debbie’s excellent meals. Hereford Martin, not having checked his emails, missed out although it didn’t get wasted) by stopping off at a pub on the way. Nevertheless he still joined us at the Philanthropic where we received our usual enthusiastic welcome. Very late into the night RAF Martin joined the happy band - later due to the M4 being closed from the first junction once over the Seven crossing - and without a map, a thought provoking drive cross country from Chepstow to Newport, commenting “SatNav - pah who needs it!” concluded with “mid-night spag-bol never tasted so good!” Thursday morning saw us back on site, setting up our little work and display corner and then proceeded to erect fencing, fill holes in the field, help slip some early boat arrivals and start to put up some signs. After lunch we had to set up Marquees and put together some Market Stalls from the PEST trailer. It was a rather tired group that returned “home” but leaving a site transformed and almost complete. Friday found us finishing off the site, slipping the boats that were now arriving thick and fast, and finalising our area with the Trailer as the centrepiece of our WRG publicity display. Meanwhile Bungle and Malcolm had broken the back of the electrics, having “poached” (albeit willingly) RAF Big Martin for some trench digging / cable burying. We lost David on Friday evening to a previous commitment and also Debbie - however she left us well prepared to cope with the rest of the catering. Their replacements were Adrian and his bike I am still not absolutely certain which was most useful - who joined us late in the evening. Saturday bought the official opening, and the rain. The event still bought in the crowds however and we Photos by Frank Wallder

It was at the Skittles contest between the two Christmas Camps that I innocently enquired what was happening about “the Trailboat”. First Big mistake! To cut a long story short, I ended up “organising” it. This year, it took advantage of the location and was combined with the Welsh Waterways Festival at Kimberley Park, Malpas, Newport. We had a joint Essex/NW dig in early May and sterling work was done in preparation for the event, cleaning locks and removing graffiti, repairing towpaths and fenders and generally helping to prepare a canal that hadn’t seen boats for years. Run by our old friends from the Mon & Brec, WRG had been asked to assist, although it never seems to appear on the official camp list which meant very little publicity in WRG circles. This didn’t help recruitment but with accommodation at our old favourite Methodist Church Hall at Crosskeys I expected that we would attract sufficient numbers to cope - second mistake. However those we did manage to attract were all Leaders, Assistants or MUPs, and they rose magnificently to the challenge. I picked up David from Reading on the way, then passing through the freshly painted green gates, we met Rachael, Bricky Martin and Debbie at Kimberley Park on

Putting up marquees

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Frank Wallder reports from an ‘unofficial’ camp to help set up, run and take down the IWA Trailboat / Welsh Waterways Festival

through and even managed to break down most of the site by about eight o’clock, with everyone chipping in, including NW WRG. We retired to Risca for the final time to enjoy fish’n’chips from the local shop, too tired even to visit the Philanthropic. Tuesday saw us clear the Hall and pack up, and then call down on site. The last few boats had left, the locals had the final clearing in hand and we were left to return the van for its next booking, thanks again to Rachael. After collecting her, my final day’s 400 mile plus trip saw me struggling through the roadworks on the M25 at 8.30 in the evening. Had a big meeting next day - last mistake. Launching a trailboat below Bettws Lane Lock There are lots of lessons to be learned from this event , but the locals were kept busy at the slipway and operating were delighted with us, it was a great publicthe locks. Luckily James, Alan Lines and ity boost and it raised the profile of the Mon Gordon were able to join us for the day to & Brec with both the public and the local help control the boats and visitors. BITM authorities. It may not strictly have been regulars Bob & Ros Featherstone travelled all restoration but it certainly prepared the way the way from Reading to assist with litter for further restoration to take place. picking and providing cover for manning the A Trust of around 400 members manWRG stand. Seeing how stretched we were, aged to put it on with our help - next year it’s they even did the same next day. The day another combined event at the Neath & finished in the Festival Bar with a Hog Roast Tennant. Are we up for it? that helped to warm us slightly. Frank Wallder There was a huge improvement in the weather on Sunday and consequent increase in visitor numbers. With the boys gone, and the trip boat fully booked, this meant that the WRG contingent was fully occupied manning the first lock (and the back pumping set!). The Bungle crew stepped into the breach manning locks further up, with Amy and Mel so prominent that Mel ended up on TV. With so much work and so little cover, Adrian’s bike came into its own. Our hosts were let down by the people who had promised to sort the parking, so there was even more work that we had to spread thinly between us. Thanks to everyone who stayed at their posts without respite. I even agreed to let Bungle distribute lunch whilst I was stuck car-parking - third mistake. That evening RAF Martin and Adrian “boules-ed up” the Welsh Waterways Festival Pairs Boules Championship by successfully beating all comers to take the title. “It’s all in the wrist action and knowing where to put it” said a euphoric team member!! We lost another couple of helpers on Monday, but not the good weather, the visiBoats and visitors at Bettws Lane Lock tors, or the work. Despite everything, we got

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Directory Canal societies and WRG ASHBY CANAL ASSOC Rod Smith 4 Ashby Road, Sinope Coalville LE67 3AY Tel: 01530 833307 BARNSLEY, DEARNE & DOVE CANAL TRUST June Backhouse, 39 Hill St, Elsecar, Barnsley S74 8EN 01226 743383 BCN SOCIETY Jeff Barley, 17 Sunnyside Walsall Wood, W Midlands 01543 373284 BUCKINGHAM CANAL SOC Athina Beckett 2 Staters Pound Pennyland Milton Keynes MK1 5AX 01908 661217 email: BUGSWORTH BASIN (IWPS) Ian Edgar Top Lock House, Lime Kiln Lane, Marple SK6 6BX. 0161 427 7402 index.htm CALDON & UTTOXETER CANALS TRUST John Rider 1 Dainty Close, Leek ST13 5PX 01538 386790

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CHESTERFIELD CANAL TRUST Mick Hodgetts 31 Pottery La Chesterfield S41 9BH 01246 620695 CHICHESTER SHIP CT Linda Wilkinson, 1 Chidham La Chichester PO18 8TL 01243 576701 COTSWOLD CT 4 Black Jack St Cirencester GL7 2AA 01285 643440 FRIENDS OF THE CROMFORD CANAL Tony Brookes 07770 350853 DERBY & SANDIACRE CS Doug Flack 23 Thoresby Crescent, Draycott Derby DE72 3PH 01332 576037 DIG DEEP INITIATIVE Alan Cavender 53 Derwent Drive, Maidenhead, SL6 6LE 01628 629033

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

ROLLE CANAL AND NTH DEVON WATERWAYS SOC Adrian & Hilary Wills Vale Cottage, 7 Annery Kiln Weare Giffard, Bideford EX39 5JE Tel: 01237 477705 RIVER GIPPING TRUST Martin Bird 29 Melton Grange Road Melton, Woodbridge IP12 1SA restoration@rivergippingtrust. GRAND WESTERN CT Denis Dodd, Wharf Cottage Nynehead, Wellington Somerset TA21 0BJ 01823 661653 GRANTHAM CANAL SOC Colin Bryan 113 Hoe View Road Cropwell Bishop Nottingham NG12 3DJ 01159 892248 HEREFS & GLOUCS CT c/o The Wharf House, Over Gloucester GL2 8DB 01452 332900 KESCRG Eddie Jones ‘Altamount’, Coventry Road Fillongley, Coventry CV7 8EQ 0845 226 8589 LANCASTER CT Paul Shaw, 12 Malham Clo Lancaster LA1 2SJ 01524 35685

LAPAL CANAL TRUST 26 Loynells Road, Rednal Birmingham B45 9NP 01785 713862 LICHFIELD & HATHERTON CANALS REST'N TRUST Sue Williams, Norfolk House 29 Hall Lane, Hammerwich Burntwood WS7 0JP 01543 671427 NEATH & TENNANT CS Ian Milne 16 Gower Road, Sketty, Swansea SA2 9BY 01792 547902 MANCHESTER BOLTON & BURY CANAL SOCIETY Steve Dent 07802-973228

SALTISFORD CT Budbrooke Road Warwick CV34 5RJ 01926 490 006, SCARS (SANKEY CANAL) Colin Greenall 16 Bleak Hill Rd, Eccleston St. Helens WA10 4RW 01744 731746 SHREWSBURY & NEWP’T CANALS TRUST Tam Hazan

STOVER CANAL SOCIETY George Whitehead 26 Northumberland Place, Teignmouth TQ14 8BU. Tel: 01626 775498,

WENDOVER ARM TRUST Roger Leishman 7 Hall Park Berkhamsted HP4 2NU 01442 874536

STRATFORD ON AVON CS Roger Hancock 1 Tyler Street Stratford upon Avon CV37 6TY 01789 296096

WEY & ARUN CT The Granary Flitchfold Farm Loxwood, Billingshurst West Sussex RH14 ORH 01403 752403

SURREY & HANTS CANAL SOC Peter Redway, 1 Redway Cottages St. John's Lye, Woking GU21 1SL 01483 721710

SHROPSHIRE UNION CS Richard Hall, 35 Tyrley Cotts Market Drayton TF9 2AH 01630 657737 MONMOUTHSHIRE BRECON & ABERGAVENNY CT SUSSEX OUSE Phil Hughes RESTORATION TRUST 14 Locks Canal Centre SLEAFORD NAV TRUST Paul Morris, Farmcote Cwm Lane, Rogerstone Steve Hayes Nettlesworth Lane Newport NP10 9GN 10 Chelmer Close Old Heathfield 01633 892167 N Hykeham, Lincs LN8 8TH Heathfield 01522-689460 TN21 9AP email: steve.hayes01453 863683 NWPG Graham Hawkes 27 Lawrence Rd., Tilehurst SOMERSETSHIRE COAL SWANSEA CANAL SOC Reading RG30 6BH CANAL SOCIETY Clive Reed 0118 941 0586 Bob Parnell, 34 17 Smithfield Road, Wedgewood Road Pontardawe, Swansea, Twerton West Glam. Bath BA2 1NX SA8 4LA POCKLINGTON C.A.S 01225-428055 01792 830782 Paul Waddington Church House, Main St. THAMES & MEDWAY Hemingborough, Selby RIVER STOUR TRUST CANAL ASSOCIATION N. Yorks YO8 7QE John Morris John Epton 01757 638027 (eves) 2 Stockton Close, Hadleigh 45 Vinson CLo Orpington 01405 763985 (days) Ipswich IP7 5SH BR6 0EQ www.pocklington. homepage.ntlworld. com/john.epton/tmca

WILTS & BERKS CT George Eycott 4 Lewendon Road Newbury RG14 1SP 07771 775745 WOODEN CANAL BOAT SOCIETY 3 Beauchamp St Ashton under Lyne OL6 8LF 0161-330-8422 WRG: GENERAL ENQUIRIES, CANAL CAMP BOOKINGS, DRIVER AUTHORISATION Jenny Black, IWA Island House Moor Road Chesham HP5 1WA 01494 783453 WRG NORTH WEST Malcolm Bridge 3 Heather Bank Littleborough OL15 0JQ 01706 378582

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Directory WRG NW - ENQUIRIES/ PAPERCHASES David McCarthy Woodstock, 14 Crumpsall Lane Manchester M8 5FB 0161-740 2179 WRG BITM & 'NAVVIES' DIARY David Wedd 7 Ringwood Road Blackwater Camberley Surrey GU17 0EY 01252 874437 LONDON WRG Tim Lewis 5 Herongate Road, Wanstead London E12 5EJ 07802 518094 WRG EAST MIDLANDS John Baylis 215 Clipstone Rd. West Forest Town Mansfield Notts NG19 0HJ 01623 633895 ESSEX WRG John Gale 24 Longleaf Drive Braintree, Essex CM7 1XS 01376-947360

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WRG SOUTH WEST Gavin Moor, 54 Kiln Close Calvert, Buckingham MK18 2FD 07970 989245 IWA/WRG STAMP BANK Steve & Mandy Morley 33 Hambleton Grove Emerson valley Milton Keynes MK4 2JS 01908 520090 CANAL CAMPS MOBILES (A) 07850 422156 (B) 07850 422157 'NAVVIES' EDITOR Martin Ludgate 35 Silvester Rd. London SE22 9PB 020 8693 3266 0777 947 8629 (mobile) 'WRGWEAR' CLOTHING Helen Gardner 33 Victoria Road Northwich CW9 5RE 07989 425346 WRG BOAT CLUB Sadie Dean 236 Station Rd. Whittlesey Peterborough PE7 2HA 01733 204505 07748 186867 (mobile)

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

OTHER DIRECTORS Rick Barnes 11 Lawns Park North Woodchester Stroud GL5 5PP 07976 748345 Mick Beattie 42 Eaton Drive Rugeley WS15 2FS Spencer Collins The Boatyard, 5 Hammond Way Trowbridge BA14 8RS 07790 017418 Chris Davey Angle House Green Terrace Skipton BD23 5DS John Baylis, 215 Clipstone Rd. West Forest Town Mansfield Notts NG19 0HJ 01623 633895 Harry Watts 12 St John Road, Slough SL2 5EY 07889 237834 James Butler 7 Hawthorne Close Woodford Halse NN11 3NY 07745 256117 Helen Gardner (see above)

Help us keep this directory up to date If you spot any errors or omissions or know of any changes to any contact details in this list please pass them on to the editor. The next full directory will appear in issue 245, but any corrections received before then will also be included in the next available ‘Navvies Noticeboard’. Thank you for your assistance.

The non-opening of the Droitwich, Beale Park and a possible virtual WRG BC AGM...

WRG BC News from the WRG Boat Club

AGM problems - only one of the club officers will be at Beale Park for the IWA I need to start this issue with the sad sad Festival. Hopefully the club house will arrive news of the death of Roger Jeffries. and a social gathering can be organised. We missed him at the National last year, Perhaps we should have a ‘virtual AGM’. I’m I worried then things were serious as, to my sure it is not beyond our capabilities. All knowledge, he had never missed a National suggestions gratefully received! before. Of course SUBS will be due then. Please Sue has written about him for the club feel free to hand them over to any officer (see page 5). I don’t want to repeat what she you see about the system, or you could post has said but need to say that I have very them to me. fond memories of all the things we were The Club Officers are: involved in. He was a tremendous supporter Lynne Cater – boat Grains in the Water of the club from the early days and will be Ann Smart – boat Ace greatly missed. We send our love and symDavid Howarth - boat Wild Otter pathy to Heather, Tom, Rachel and Henry. Sadie Dean – boat Straw Bear or ex Nobody is surprised to hear that ‘The FMC Lynx Droitwich’ is not fully open, nor will it be this Post subs to - WRG BC, 236 Station year, undaunted I will still make (or will have Road, Whittlesey, Peterborough PE7 2HA made by the time you read this) a visit to If you are handing over money, please both ends. I will have a look and see where include a note with your name and boat we can get to. We will take ‘Straw Bear’ as we name on it. may need to turn in limited spaces, or possiIf you would like to pay by direct debit/ bly reverse! bankers order please ask for a form. If you I do hope that some other members DO pay by direct debit/bankers order please will be visiting the area and will let me/us don’t pay cash too! We get so confused. know how they get on. Please Fly the Flag so we know who We have had a recent newsletter about you are. Remember the club motto ‘Incomthe canal; it tells us that the posts with the petence at its Best’! names of contributors are being erected so xxx Sadie Dean you should be able to find the club’s name on one or more posts. I have also been told that we will be invited to the opening of the Barge Canal bit later this year. It was very forward looking of members Judith and Mike Chessher to move to Droitwich to await the canals’ arrival! There are lots of problems on the BCN at the moment. These include reservoir dewatering, a breach, various closures and time restrictions on lock flights. All of these are related to water shortage. We have both boats booked on Caggy’s dock during August. I tell you this to explain why I can’t commit to anything else during these times as we don’t know which route we will be able to take to Tipton or how long the Waiting for boats: the Droitwich Canal journeys will take. Hence...

WRG Boat Club news

Tim Lewis

. . . .

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

Congratulations to Harry Arnold MBE proddetail.asp?prod=nav1

Happy 40th Birthday... us! WRG is 40 years old in early August, so to celebrate we are planning a party at the National Festival site on Saturday 21 August. For more details, and especially if you want to help with the event, contact Jude Palmer on 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:

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

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on his appearance in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List

IWA is appealing... ...for funds so that WRG volunteers can restore Inglesham Lock on the Cotswold Canals. (see photo, pages 2-3) If you want to help keep us out of mischief next year by supporting the Appeal, go to

Congratulations to Viv Watson and Jason Day on their marriage and to Dr Liz and Ian Williamson on the arrival of Ellen Rose on 8 June weighing 9lb 8oz and to Brian ‘Ernie’ Hearne and Lin Flowers on their engagement

“I don’t like solo handling, I think it’s one of the reasons I’ve been married so many times...”

Infill The Deirdre interview

40 views for 40 years: extra By way of a change, as a special addition to our series of interviews with WRGies past and present our interviewer hands the microphone to Deirdre, Navvies’ own agony aunt...

Q: Deirdre, you have contributed your experience and wisdom to waterway restoration for many years, most recently through your Navvies agony column. How did you first become involved with the waterways? Q: My involvement came about really just by chance. I remember my third husband Kenny mentioning something about a boat he owned shortly before I agreed to marry him. You can imagine my disappointment when it turned out to be a pokey little narrowboat with a smoky stove rather than the gleaming yacht I’d imagined. But for the sake of marital harmony I decided to put the matter behind me and only raised it occasionally just as he dropped off to sleep or at family weddings. Sadly Kenny disappointed me in some other more significant ways so the marriage didn’t last very long - but I did get to keep the boat! Incidentally, in case other women find themselves in a similar situation I can send you my pamphlet What if his longboat’s actually just a trailboat? A guide to marital satisfaction. After the divorce, because of various factors I won’t bore you with my daughter Chastity needed to get away from London rather urgently and so I ended up staying on Kenny’s horrible old boat for nearly two years whilst we travelled round the country. It was important to avoid inner city areas so we ended up cruising some deserted stretches of the Norfolk Broads for long periods. Q: And that’s how you were bitten with the boating bug? A: Good lord no, it was an absolutely dreadful time. Chastity was going through a difficult period which made her very emotional, especially when the methadone clinic tightened up her supply. Not very nice to change the oil filters every day with the words “you’ve ruined my life you crazy old bitch” ringing in my ears! Fellow boaters were always very friendly when they came to complain about all the shouting and so I got to know the community. It soon became clear that although I might have my own cross to bear, the people around me had far bigger problems. For instance, I’ll never forget an elderly couple we moored alongside for several weeks. They’d been married for four decades and you could tell they were both bored stiff, they barely had a word to say to each other and just used to sit quietly on their boat drinking tea and watching the swans. I popped a few pamphlets on spicing up their sex life under their hood and Chastity livened things up a bit by stripping their boat of anything she could sell for skag. I could tell they were attached to us because they couldn’t even bring themselves to say goodbye: they sailed off one night whilst we were asleep. I often wonder how they’re doing.

Q: What’s your favourite canal for cruising? A: They all look the same to me to be honest, and since I’ve got my Sky package on the flat screen in the saloon I don’t really look out the window much. I do have a least favourite: I’ve terrible memories of the Shropshire union canal as that’s where my fourth husband sadly lost his life in a freak accident.

Q: That must have been terrible. What happened? A: It was awful. We’d both been drinking and an argument broke out about Robert’s relationship with one of the female members of KESCRG whose name I won’t mention. Around 2am Robert stood up and announced he was leaving me “for someone less mentally unstable”. As he turned to leave the cabin he accidentally struck his head three times against a decorative iron fender we’d been using as a doorstop. His skull was crushed in several places and he died before the ambulance could arrive. It was terribly traumatic and meant I

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Infill THe Deirdre interview

“For the love of god please don’t tell Jude what happened between us...”

had to handle the locks alone for the rest of the cruise. I don’t like solo handling, I think it’s one of the reasons I’ve been married so many times.

Q: Have you led any camps? A: I did have one foray into leadership back in the late nineties: I felt it was a spectacular success and I got on really well with my team, especially the young D of E kids who I was determined to make sure enjoyed themselves fully and found the experience eye opening and rewarding. Unfortunately the committee and some narrow-minded sections of Wiltshire police and social services didn’t see things the same way, and although no prosecution ever arose the board and I agreed my talents could best serve WRG in other ways. I’d just like to clarify that both boys were over 18 and so it wasn’t actually statutory rape, despite what some sordid tabloid stories claimed at the time.

Q: You’ve had an eventful life: what made you decide to become Navvies agony columnist? A: Well it was Mike Palmer who begged me to accept the post actually. I think his exact words were “you can have any job you like, but for the love of god please don’t tell Jude what happened between us”. I embraced the role gladly in the knowledge there are a lot of confused, loveless WRGies out there in need of my tenderness and advice. I like to think my wise counsel shines light into the darker areas of the WRG heart. It’s heart warming to know I’ve personally assisted WRGies at some of the more difficult periods in their lives. Since I’ve started my column I’ve been named in at least 3 divorce cases, which I like to think shows the impact my humble column has had.

Q: You’ve recently married for the fifth time, do you draw on your own romantic experience in your column?

A: Relentlessly. I don’t think there’s anyone in waterway restoration with the breadth and depth of relationship experience as me. I’ve been married to a solicitor, a bishop and a ski instructor thirty years my junior. And, not in the same order, a pervert, a womaniser and a compulsive liar. It’s just a shame my husbands have never listened to the jolly good advice I’ve given them or more of those marriages might have worked out. As my fourth husband Robert would say to me “you’re always bloody right aren’t you?”. I’d have to agree with him. I’ve always been generous with my wisdom with those around me. Especially for my children, at least those I’m on speaking terms with.

Q: Do you feel that your current marriage will be your last? A: Absolutely. I’ve been 100% committed to every one of my marriages and I know that what I have with Ahmed is for life, despite the huge age gap and the massive cultural and religious differences between us. It’s just a shame that his family back in Egypt are being so difficult about the whole thing.

Q: You’ve recently converted to Islam, is it true that you’ll be changing your name? A: Ahmed insisted I convert before the wedding, which was a traditional Bedouin ceremony marred only by Chastity’s refusal to ceremonially slit the goat’s throat at the feast afterwards. I feel very happy and fulfilled in my new faith, although there are some aspects I won’t be bothering with like all the prayers and fasting and stuff. Ahmed and I discussed me changing my name to the traditional Islamic name ‘Daleela¡’, which means guide, as I felt that was appropriate for my Navvies role. However I’d just had a new batch of my pamphlets printed, including Crewing for two: How to build a lasting marriage, and I didn’t want to have to pulp them all. ‘Dear Daleela¡’ does have quite a ring to it though, doesn’t it!

Q: So what do you think the future holds for the waterways? A: Hopefully lots of bickering and heartache. Plenty for me to write about for years to come!

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Dear Deirdre There’s a camp at my favourite site this summer, but it’s fully booked. I’ve tried speaking to the camp leader, who’s an old friend of mine, but he says he can’t do anything. You’re in with WRG top brass Deirdre, can’t you pull some strings and get me on the list? - Mike, via email

Deirdre writes: Looking back on my own experience as a leader, I recommend you sort out plenty of designated drivers. A stiff drink or five of an evening is the only way to cope with the pressure of having all those lives in your hands. You might also want to find an assistant leader who’s teetotal. Best of luck.

Dear Deirdre I have just come Deirdre writes: Although in theory back from a brilliant week on the there’s a limit to how many can book on a camp, it’s always possible to find room for a particularly useful or skilled person. As your “old friend” the camp leader won’t let you on, it’s time to face the harsh truth that you’re not any bloody use on site. Are you one of those people that can’t lift anything heavy, takes a lot of breaks to take photos and coughs so much you can’t be trusted in the kitchen? I very much suspect it. The only remedy is to sign up for the next training weekend and get some skills. Maybe if you have a dumper ticket you’ll be a more appealing prospect, otherwise there’s no hope for you.

Dear Deirdre Would you have any advice for a novice leader about to lead their first camp? - Jane, via email

Cotswold Canals but am now suffering terribly from Post Canal Camp Depression. Is there anything I can do about it, other than simply booking on another camp as soon as possible? - Emma, from somewhere oop north

Deirdre writes: This is a common problem. I approached my friend Sophie for answers on this as has a great deal of camp experience. She wrote: “Hi Deirdre, the only way to solve this is by booking on another camp as soon as possible, for instance I’m running a great one 14-21 August on the Mon and Brec. Tell her she can come on that. Unless she doesn’t have a digger or dumper licence, in which case she can sod off. Thanks for all the relationship advice by the way. You were perfectly right: it was crabs and I’ve chucked him now.” Hope that clears things up Emma.

Have you got a question for Deirdre? Just email

Introducing a new series... Scenes you seldom see on a dig No 1:

“Would you like to adjust your clothing? I’m about to take a photo”

No 2:

“This mortar is perfect”

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Profile for The Inland Waterways Association

Navvies 242  

Magazine for volunteers restoring the waterways.

Navvies 242  

Magazine for volunteers restoring the waterways.