volunteers restoring waterways
navvies waterway recovery group
Issue No 250 December-January 2011-12
Navvies Production Editor: Martin Ludgate, 35 Silvester Road, East Dulwich London SE22 9PB 020-8693 3266 email@example.com 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.
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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.
ISSN: 0953-6655 ÂŠ 2011 WRG
Directors of WRG: Rick Barnes, John Baylis, Mick Beattie, James Butler, Spencer Collins, Christopher Davey, George Eycott, Helen Gardner, John Hawkins, Judith Palmer, Michael Palmer, Jonathan Smith, Harry Watts.
Visit our web site www.wrg.org.uk for page 2
Contents In this issue... Editorial on building new waterways 4-5 Coming soon Winter camps, training, leaders needed 6-7 Camp reports Grand Western, Chelmer & Blackwater, and Inglesham 8-15 40 interviews Nigel Stevens and Spencer Greystrong face the questions 16-23 Diary canal camps and weekend digs 24-26 Letters the Pete Redway Memorial Dig 27 Progress a roundup of news from restoration projects around the country 28-31 Plant John’s still fixing his mixer 32 Reunion Redway Memorial Dig report 33-35 Lavender Boat 20 years on the toilet 36-37 The future should we build new canals? 38-39 Camp report Inglesham again 40-43 Navvies News Essex WRG update 44 WRGBC Latest from our own boat clun 45 Noticeboard attention Mont campers! 46 Infill Deirdre returns, as does Superwrg47-48
Left Chelmer & Blackwater: relaying the towpath under Wave Bridge on a London WRG weekend. Above Grand Western: the carriage drive aqueduct receives attention from contractors. (see report from WRG Forestry camp there on p8-9). Below Cotswold Canals: Inglesham Week 3 volunteers working on the spillway (see camp report p40-43). Bottom Buckingham Arm: Little Hill Bridge, restoration just completed by Buckingham Canal Society. Bottom Left Basingstoke Canal: a boatful of WRGies on the Bonfire Bash (see report p33-35). Front Cover Chelmer & Blackwater: clearing vegetation on the October camp (see report p10-12). Photo by Gordon Brown
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Editorial Drawing lines on the map?
What connects a flooded clay pit, a road widening scheme, a national water rescue training facility and the Moon?
New waterways: who wants them? ties for this kind of project - as the supportOn pages 43-43 you will find a piece by Michael Handford describing what he sees as the four ‘generations’ of waterways restoration schemes, from the early ones (where the basic canal structures were still there, there weren’t any serious obstructions and the problems were more to do with actually persuading people that canals were a good thing to have at all rather than the technical difficulties in reopening them) through to the complex reconstruction needed for some of today’s more tricky projects. No problems so far, so long as nobody’s trying to tell us we have to finish all of one generation before we start on the next one. And in fairness, I don’t feel that Michael is. But he then goes on to describe the next two generations: the fifth (rebuilding canals that have largely vanished, and in some cases were never completed at all); and the sixth (building brand new navigations filling in what he sees as the missing links around the country). Again, I have no real problems with the basic idea - after all, there are already two new navigations completed, two more with navigable lengths, and two more with navigation structures built in advance of the main construction work. What I don’t quite agree with, however, is the suggested routes for these new navigations. At a first glance it seems just a little bit too much like playing ‘join the dots’ with the Imrays map of the waterways, rather than a well thought out plan to identify schemes which would have a chance of attracting the necessary funding and support. Don’t get me wrong: as a boater I’d love to cruise across the Peak District from Whaley Bridge to Chesterfield, or through the Welsh Borders from Brecon to Hereford. But I don’t see boaters alone footing the bill for these links nor volunteers building them. So who will? Sure, around 10 years ago with the Millennium Fund looking for ‘landmark’ schemes to support which would make their mark on the country, there were opportuni-
ers of the Ribble Link (and the Huddersfield, Rochdale and Scottish Lowland canals) found out. But today words like ‘heritage’, ‘regeneration’ and ‘community’ seem to have taken the place of ‘iconic’ and ‘landmark’ in potential funders’ vocabulary. And while there are very few restorations which don’t have some kind of ‘heritage’ appeal (and therefore some hope of Heritage Lottery Fund support), the same can’t be said of brand new waterways. Perhaps I’m being a doubting Thomas. After all, as Michael puts it “If you do not believe this is possible, you need to explain why we can put men on the Moon but not restore the fifth and build the sixth generation”. Well, that’s an interesting comparison. I remember watching the first moon landing in grainy black and white on the school telly, and as a science-mad pre-teen I was sure that they’d be on Mars before I was grown up. Instead of which they haven’t even been back to the Moon in four decades. And I don’t think it’s too cynical for me to suggest that that’s largely because there’s no longer been a race between the USA and USSR to get there first in the interest of national pride. So what’s that got to do with new canals? Well, it’s just that in the same way, they won’t happen without folks having reasons for wanting to build them. Reasons that go beyond us simply knowing that we have the technology, that they look good on the map, and that they would be brilliant to cruise. Don’t worry - I’m not suggesting that the best incentive to get the Bedford-Milton Keynes open would be the knowledge that we need to stop the Russkies beating us to it! But I’m also not saying we won’t or shouldn’t build any of these routes - we just need to look carefully for reasons. And, just like it isn’t always the most obviously beneficial canal restorations (from a boating point of view) that get funded first, the same might be true of building new waterways. My mention of the B-MK at this point is deliberate. Because that’s a good example of one that not only does a very good job of
‘joining the dots’, filling a gap in the navigable network and appealing to boaty types. It’s also - following some really good behindthe-scenes work by the B&MK Trust and Partnership - one that appears to be ticking all the boxes with lots of different potential partners when it comes to getting it built. Have a look at the report they’ve just produced: it’s on www.b-mkwaterway.co.uk download the ‘A to Z project delivery plan’. and you’ll see what I mean. Along the 16 mile route you will find lengths of canal that could be (and in a couple of cases already are being) built in conjunction with such varied projects as:
built inside an old railway tunnel, is actually just a fantasy. Which I feel is rather a shame. Because when you look at it, it’s got some waterways heritage to restore at the ends; there’s probably some railway heritage in between that it would help to preserve; it runs through some ex-industrial areas that could probably do with some new employment and leisure opportunities; there’s a big urban regeneration planned for the north side of Bradford when the economy recovers, which has already identified a restored Bradford Canal as something worth incorporating; the underground inclined plane would be a major tourist attraction in a populous area; at least a road widening scheme (canal bridge some of the route is already there in the already completed) form of either infilled canal or abandoned a new Innovation Park (length of chan- railway trackbed. Oh yes, and boaters would nel to be dug in 2012) get a new through route, a couple of new cruising rings, and a new highest summit housing schemes level in Britain. a business startup centre Get a bunch of people on the case who are as good at turning these plus points into a national water rescue training centre actual funding or physical contributions to a water sports facility canal construction as the B&MK lot are, and I reckon it’s got a better chance than most of a flood water relief channel the ones on Michael’s list. a marina off the Grand Union (I will, of course, be happy to eat my land reinstatement work following road words in a few decades’ time if I’m proved wrong!) improvements OK that’s a very far-fetched example. a landfill site Much more likely to happen in the next few Add to that the availability of a couple miles years is the Daventry Arm - a new branch of of an existing stream, a cattle bridge under a the Grand Union. It wouldn’t make any new motorway, an abandoned drainage ditch, and rings or through routes or link disconnected two lakes created from old clay pits - all of waterways. As far as boating is concerned it which can be reused for the new route - and would just link Daventry to the Grand Union. you can see why I think this one is a goer. But it would also form a centrepiece of a big There is hardly a length of it where B&MKWT town centre regeneration scheme that’s likely haven’t identified some way of getting it built to be happening in Daventry anyway, with or that won’t rely on navigation interests alone without canal, as well as running through an to drum up the cash to build a new canal. area earmarked for new housing - and new Can the same be said for Stamford to houses with canals by them sell for more Oakham, Grantham to Sleaford, the Fens to money. And (just in case you were wonderteh Broads, Whaley Bridge to Chesterfield or ing if this editorial had any relevance to Ripon to Kielder Water? I’m not so sure. volunteers and WRG at all) if it does happen On the other hand, in the interview (and it’s still being argued about by local with Nigel Stevens on pages 16-19, he iden- politicians - but it does seem to have a really tifies a scheme so far-fetched that even the good chance) then there’s just a possibiity ever-optimistic Michael Handford hasn’t that we might end up helping with it. dared to suggest it - reopening the Bradford So my answer to Michael’s challenge to Canal, the Halifax Arm of the Calder & explain why we can’t restore the 5th and Hebble, and linking them together using a build the 6th generation of waterway converted former railway line. Unfortunately schemes is “we can - but maybe not quite he then admits that his scheme, which would where you expected us to”. involve dozens of new locks and a boat lift Martin Ludgate
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Coming soon Camps and leader ‘stuff’ Christmas camps You might just receive this Navvies in time to make a last minute decision to go on a Christmas / New Year Canal Camp. The WRG New Year Camp on the Montgomery was full as we went to press so unless there’s a last-minute cancellation we won’t be able to take any more volunteers. But there’s now also a camp on the Cotswolds at Inglesham, doing some more scrub-bashing under the leadership of Martin Thompson. Contact him on 07736 796419 if you want to join them. Alternatively the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust will be holding its own Christmas camp, working in the Dauntsey / Seven Locks area on anything from hedgelaying to scrubclearance depending on the weather. Contact Rachael Banyard on 01249 892289.
February Camp Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation The first Canal Camp of 2012 will take place on the Chelmer & Blackwater on 11 to 18 February, doing a variety of jobs concerned with running a working navigation managed by Essex Waterways, part of WRG’s parent body the Inland Waterways Association. The good news is we hope to have the Haybay barge for accommodation. The not quite so good news is that it was looking close to fully booked as we went to press. Contact Head Office on 01494 783453 or email firstname.lastname@example.org to check if thereís any space.
Easter Camps We’re running two Easter camps for 2012 - well, two-and-a-bit. Chesterfield Canal Camp 2012-03 runs from 31 March to 9 April (thatís right - an extra two days to take advantage of the Easter Bank Holiday weekend). Leaders Steve Baylis and George Rogers will be in charge of the next stage of the construction of the new Staveley Town Lock which we started building in 2011. Meanwhile down on the Hereford & Gloucester Canal, we’re returning to the scene of our 19992000 exploits at Over Basin. The Canal Trust has bought the next bit of land beyond the end of the basin we rebuilt all those years ago, and is keen to turn it into another length of canal as soon as possible. So there should be lots of work with machinery - excavators and dumpers to dig the channel out, plus towpath laying and a section of steel piling canal bank to install. Leaders are
Martin Thompson and Gary Summers, and (I know you were waiting to find out why it was twoand-a-bit camps) it starts with an ‘unofficial’ week aimed at experienced volunteers from 31 March to 6 April followed by an ‘official’ camp (to which everyone is welcome) running from 6 to 13 April. BCN Cleanup Once again we’ll be heading for the Birmingham Canal Navigations on 21-23 April to throw our grappling hooks into the murky waters and see what sort of ‘interesting’ stuff we can pull out. We’ll be returning to the Walsall Canal, but this year for the first time we hope to work on the Walsall Town Arm as well as the main line. This makes it particularly suited to those who would like to arrive by boat, as there will be moorings available in Walsall Basin. Accommodation is likely to be in a local college building complete with showers, and we’ll have more details and a booking form next time. Leader Training day Over to Helen Gardner for the latest on the Leaders’ Training Day to be held on 12 May at a venue to be announced, somewhere in the midlands. So - the leaders’ training day - what is it about and who is it for? I guess in an effort to appeal to as many as possible the aim of it occasionally gets a little lost. Firstly (and honestly), it is about the only chance we get to lock* as many leaders as possible in one room, hopefully gain their attention and hand over any new, relevant information about running camps. So in that respect it is a workshop for existing leaders but that shouldnít stop you from coming along to find out more if you are interested in leading. If you have never led you will still pick up things and be better informed about the decision whether to lead and when. It is generally helpful if you have been on a canal camp but it is by no means compulsory. The thing about locking canal camp leaders in a room is that they tend to talk back - we’ve had some really good ideas and discussions out of the day. Recently, in particular, the contents of the kit has been driven by the leaders. As Mike said in the last edition of Navvies ‘don’t hold back on your feedback’. It may be a surprise but the agenda is actually tweaked and developed over the entire year, from straight after the previous day (“ooh - we should have covered x”), through the camps season (out of the camps review and the feedback questionnaires) and taking input from leaders as we approach the day. Pretty much every WRG committee meeting results in something that feeds into the agenda. We try not to repeat things year on year because we want to keep our
more experienced leaders coming back. However, this year we will be covering working at heights again because it is still relatively recent, we haven’t quite mastered it and there is still more to say. Obviously trying to appeal to so many inevitably means we can’t quite please everyone all day but we do work hard to try to make it varied and interesting. We also really appreciate it when people come up with ideas of what we can cover (preferably asap and not two days before) - and if anyone fancies running a presentation or a session, that would be brilliant. It is finally an opportunity to meet up with other leaders, learn from them, reflect on and share your experiences and have a natter without trying to run a site. The feedback we get is generally very positive. In summary... Who? Past, present and future or potential leaders and MUPs, local society working party organisers, regional groups dig organisers What? Anything that’s relevant, interesting or important - dictated by the law, past camps, suggestions and discussion throughout the day Why? So that leaders can do a good, professional, fun job at being a leader - so that we stay safe and so that leaders feel supported How? We talk and you talk - discussion - group activities. All we ask is that you come along with an open mind, contribute to the discussions where you can, participate in the activities and listen to others. To book on contact Jenny Black at head office. Lunch will be provided and there is no cost to the day. Approx 10am till 4pm. Any questions/suggestions to me, Helen Gardner email@example.com 07989 425346. * We don’t actually use a padlock. Well we havenít so far. But it does give me an idea. PS If anyone actually wants to write about their experience of attending a leaders’ training day then Iíll buy them a beer if itís nice.
And speaking of leaders... Hello everyWRGie, it’s Mk2 here with a quick update on Canal Camp Leaders for 2012. If youíre stuck for time, just read the bold bits. A hugorificous THANK YOU to all the volunteers to run or assist on Camps next year and don’t worry if you haven’t had emails back yet; it might just be that we haven’t quite placed you yet and don’t want to give you a woolly response! If I manage to get this into the end-of-2011 Navvies (and let’s face it, at the speed with which I get anything other than my all-consuming, lifetrampling, paid work done, it’s unlikely) I’d like to tell you that we’re only panicking about the February Chelmer & Blackwater Camp. If this
is in the Navvies after that and Feb Chelmer still doesn’t have a leader, we’re past panic and looking over the chalky threshold of dear old Beachy Head and thinking how nice the water looks. We have an assistant and a cook (and you both know who you are and that we all love you) but the leader is still a bit of a TBCism. No pressure, but the Camp’s full and closed! Anyone? Otherwise, we’ll start ringing ’round! So who’s we? Well, there’s me, Mister Two, spelt ‘M-K-2’, and Bex, spelt Bex. We’re aided and abetted by Helen ‘Bushbaby’ Gardner on leadership development - Helen will tell you all about the leaders training day [see left]. We’re further strengthened by Ju Davenport and Suzie Walker and if everthing else fails, Jenny Black is in Island House, holding everything together and emailing people for us whilst we’re at work. You can contact this complete team by simply emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Now then, what do we still need? Well, people to LEAD the two Mon & Brec Camps would be great. Assistants are identified but we can’t confirm them until we can be sure that we have good teams forming. So if you have previous Camps leadership experience and a taste for locks that come in fourteens, dramatic scenery, dramatic weather and Hancocks HB, do let us know. At least one of the Mon & Brec events will come with an extra opportunity: we have been asked to look at the northernmost stretch of the Swansea Canal. The Swansea Canal society has provided an excellent document outlining what there is to do and we’d like to facilitate at least a site visit and if possible a ‘break-out group’ from one or both of the Mon & Brec Camps to do a little firtling. To quote the comprehensive document supplied by the Society: “The SCS proposes the clearance of a 1km stretch of disused Swansea Canal” and continues that it includes: “1. 3 locks; 2. A narrow channel; 3. Much vegetation.” Add in the prospect of dropping a tree or three and it’s looking interesting, so already a well-known WRGie based in border country has suggested a site visit and may well assist one of the Camps. Then there’s the Chelmer & Blackwater and the chance to work on one of our very own waterways. We’ve got two summer Camps up for grabs and we need teams whoíd like to get stuck into any kind of maintenance and protection task the Essex Waterways team can send WRG’s way. If youíd like a chat, email email@example.com and/or firstname.lastname@example.org and lettuce know the right time of evening or weekend to call you. Or call us! Mark ‘Mk2’ Richardson
Camp Report Grand Western Canal WRG Forestry Team “a Grand Week” or the “if you want a camp, you organise it” camp ...on the Grand Western 22nd – 29th Oct 2011 Which is what I did, with a little help from my friends and the much beloved? Everyone arrived (eventually) on Friday night / Saturday morning. After a few beers down the hatch we were all warm and ready for bed. A nice full breakfast, courtesy of Mitch & Bitch kitchen services, then off to site at Nynehead to make a dent in the woodwork. Saturday & Sunday, scrub to be bashed and burnt, and a few trees to take out to clear an area near the newly rebuilt carriage drive wall, so the tree contractors can come along at a later date with their tractor winch to take out some big, big trees which are too near the railway line and too big for us to do. We also had another lesson in Tirfor knitting from Ben or how to get two strops from two Tirfors forty foot up a tree at the same time and it worked! Mr Tyler arrived in time for a crackling good feed, pub then bed. Monday saw Rob (Mr Dyson) Fletcher, a trainer/ assessor extraordinaire, join us for the week and Tom ‘Squeeze’ Rawlings, just there for the day. We moved up to Long Coppice away from the contractors working on the Lift/aqueduct. We had two groups: the Fire Queen versus RAF Martin, set out in two sections clearing the line of the canal. The groundsmen carried on while four chainsaw men had a few lessons in taking out BIG trees and windblown trees with Rob, and leaving plenty of mess to clear up after them, as usual!! No injuries, but Paul got his tree hung up, all had fun and got
Down at Nynehead Aqueduct and Lift, WRG’s Forestry Team hold their first ever week-long camp, Paul gets hung up and Nigel aims to get himself certified... nicely smoked, a good feed and off down the pub for a few beers and bed. Tuesday was much of the same, RAF Martin trying to outdo the Fire Queen possibly… Weather was a bit wet, but under the trees it was a bit drier until Clive, Ben, Martyn (RAC) Tim, Ian or Paul (PG) cut them down, then it got a bit wetter! But Paul got his tree hung up. The Tweedles and MK2 arrived in time for a good feed, a puzzle fitting session then pub and bed. Wednesday much the same - the Fire Queen trying to outdo RAF Martin. Maybe… But Paul got his tree hung up. And Nigel had a go at some logging under instruction to give him a go before his full training and assessment on the 21st November. Good food, pub, bed Thursday much the same - RAF Martin trying to outdo the Fire Queen, couldn’t say… But Paul got his tree hung up. Also marked Mr Dyson’s Birthday with a cake and card signed by all, A good feed, finished the puzzle, pub, bed. On Friday much the same the Fire
Clive shows off his 30 inches
Queen trying to outdo RAF Martin possibly…! But Paul got his tree hung up, with a good tidy up of site. Mr Brotherston finally got his tree stump out. After a very good feed that night we had a smashing game of skittles in the back of Colin’s pub, Mk2 winning at Killer Saturday: pack up, clear up and go home! And now the Thank Yous: Mitch & Bitch for catering (as a camp works on its stomach) and the reappearance of lemon meringue pies even after saying ‘never again’, Denis Dodd for the car/van parking and all round nice guy, Robin Darby for the land to work on (and for the next few years to come), Tim’s mum for letting me into my landy, also Mr Fletcher for passing us all on our assessments and letting me use his ms660 (that’s a big saw with a 30" bar), RAF Martin, Tim, Paul(PG) for Breakfast each morning, the one and only “Norton Tirfor” (I lost count of the shouts for it). But Mr Lines is now thinking of fitting a blue flashing light and a two tone air horns to it!! And my DAD for still talking to me as it was his first camp as against my improper DAD (Mr Hawkins) who’s lost count of how many he’s been on, and for Barry (the bolt) for not losing his glasses this time so we did not have to spend lots of time looking fruitlessly for them. And to all of you that came and went of your own free will and for making my nightmares not come true!! 26 people in all not bad for WRGFT’s first ever week camp. Next year’s camp is very much in the planning stage possibly, maybe, couldn’t say!! But keep a eye on the WRGFT web site for details of our digs & days out. Clive Alderman WRG Forestry Team co-ordinator
Above: clearing vegetation from alongside the aqueduct which carries the canal embankment over the old carriage drive to Nynehead Court. (see also photo on page 2) Left: getting technical with wedges. Below: team photo in the canal bed. All photos by Alan Lines
“One foot on dry land, one foot on a dry boat, boat goes away from shore and... ‘plop’...”
Chelmer & Blackwater
October on the Chelmer & Blackwater others were cutting down overhanging
branches over the tow path and over grown scrub and ferrying to the bonfire. Monday on site saw my friends arrive. There were about 5-6 of us in total now. Kate had an easy morning (I thought it was Sundays that were easy mornings according to the song) anyway, Kate had a ride on Buddy. Now this isn’t as it sounds. Buddy is another boat that has a catamaran style hull, so it’s much easier to work from to chop off branches over the canal on the opposite side to the tow path. Kate arrived at lunchtime to find me and my friends all hard at work. Folks were trained up on me and the bonfire was alight once again, and the length of towpath we started yesterday was looking great. Today though I still had my
Hi there, my name is Stihl. My name sounds like the company that makes chainsaws etc, but actually I am an interchangeable useful tool! (made by said company above though!) This is my account of the October camp on the Chelmer and Blackwater Navigation. On Sunday morning I got to meet everyone. Before Adrian started me up, I got to hear how Saturday went when everyone arrived. Adrian and James the camp leader arrived first onto the accommodation boat called the Haybay. They were unsure where the key was, so tried to see if they could get in any other way. The one door they didn’t try, well, the only other door, ie the back door, was unlocked all along! They finally found out where the key was hidden and got in! Cabin was chosen, bed stuff laid out and then Helen aka The Purple Fairy arrived. I think she was the assistant leader from what I saw during the week. Apparently there was a slight dress-sense issue going on between Adrian, James and Helen. They all had black Reunion jumpers on. This meant one of two things: either James was finally getting the hang of fashion, or a wardrobe error was made! Everyone else had arrived by 4pm and the health and safety talk took place. Frank made a yummy dinner too. In the evening a trip to one of the local pubs was done to sample the beverages. Sadly I wasn’t taken along as I love a bit of 2 stroke and they don’t sell that in pubs! Two stroke fires me up beautifully. I would report more about this morning but Adrian got hold of me and started me up. Being an interchangeable piece of machinery Adrian chose the hedge cutter type head. Whilst Adrian and James cut their way through the brambles Gordon got a crash course in using the small boat called the Radar or Racer or Raider or whatever it was called. It was tricky to hear over my engine noise. Some folks went with Jonathan to set up a small controlled bonfire whilst
Gordon about to find out the water’s just too deep
hedgecutter head on, but this time Adrian the compulsory boating thing of one foot on was in a field with cows and a wood chipper. dry land, one foot on a dry boat, boat goes From the blur of moving left to right, and away from shore and ‘plop’. Yes Jonathan right to left, and left to right and right to left, took a step in the wrong direction! He chose you get the idea, I couldn’t really see what to go for the bank but that was the wrong Adrian was chipping. It looked like he fell choice! It was the end of the day so Jonathan asleep at one point when he ran out of went back to the accommodation, and wood. I would like to point out that at no Adrian, James and Maggie stayed back to point did he turn a cow into mince for chef tend the bonfire until darkness fell and made Frank to use in the evening dinner. sure the fire was out before we left it. After a night in the back of the kit Thursday came around and the final trailer listening to the rain coming down on tidying up on site was well under way. James the trailer roof, the volunteers came back to showed everyone what needed doing and rescue me. John saw the big 4 stroke engine everyone else just got on organising what with a strimmer head on. That’s the Daddy of they would do and who was needing what the power tools like me. John didn’t stop tools and as if like clockwork the site was though. He was like a machine himself. under way. Guess which tool John went for!!! John’s surname is Tickle. Tickle the ground James, Helen and Roy the local went off to he didn’t, he was on full throttle the whole check out where to go next. In the end the time. Well, until he ran out of fuel or decision was made for a boat trip on the old strimmer wire! If there was a large change in dredging barge was the best plan as it volume of noise around the canal it would needed taking back to Heybridge Basin. This most likely be John firing up or stopping for is where our accommodation boat the tea break! Jonathan found a chainsaw head Haybay is also moored. Just over half the and carefully stepped onto Buddy to chop folks fancied the trip back on the boat. Lynda down some branches whilst Gordon had a was like a 5 year old really keen to do someteam on his Racer boat also taking down thing with her hand up high saying “me me branches but with a bow-saw. me”, Pete just wanted to go along for a little Wednesday saw us all move on down sleep and Adrian fancied a go driving the the towpath to clear the next bit of site. We boat. Hmm well, Adrians skill ran out at this had a goal to clear an area to a certain point. point. It was a barge too far! Ask Adrian next Well, we reached it but it needed a bit more time you see him, how a dredging barge work for the next day. A large oak, birch, or with no dredging equipment on board can whatever make and model of tree it was, was dredge both sides of the canal at once! taken down as it was very very rotten and Those left on site carried on cutting dangerously overhanging the canal. Jenny branches down from boats. They mainly made a spectacle of herself when her glasses fell off whilst dragging a rather large branch on board Buddy. You all thought ‘Dirty Ju’ Davenport liked mud, well, Jenny is the equivalent of Ju but with watery wet boat floors! Buddy has a loading / unloading ramp. This makes life very easy for unloading onto the fire and loading tools at the beginning and end of the On board workboat Buddy day. Jonathan did
back from site! Apologies for not listing everyones names but you were all true super stars and made the camp extremely enjoyable. Ok I lied, this is the last thank you. And yes, it’s to you Frank. For stepping in at the last minute to cook and what amazing food you cooked too. Thank you so much. Watch out though, I SHALL be asking you again in the future! So then Camp 21 volunteers: same time same place next year? ‘Stihl’ (with a little help from James Butler)
concentrated on where the weir flows out around the nearby lock. Gordon donned the waders as it was too shallow for the boat to get near. Just like Jonathan getting wet, Gordon felt he had to join in. Waders, life jacket, hi vis coat and still Gordon took one step too far. Yes, he went in one inch deeper than the depth of the waders! As it was the end of the day Gordon went back to the Haybay to warm up again. Friday was “all change”. It was decided that the site for Friday would involve leap frogging down the canal to a completely different area. The day before when James, Helen and Roy did a site visit they thought everyone would get to point A; well, everyone managed to double point A in length. My brush cutter head was spinning all day! Thank you to everyone who worked so hard, Jenny for enlightening us about single ’60s nights, (and you thought I had forgotten Jen!) Pete for donating some money for the Friday night party as he mucked up on camp dates (don’t do it again Pete, not the donating part but the leaving early, we missed you!) John for being an epic strimmer (that’s ‘strimmer’ not ‘stripper’ John!) Jonathan for pruning like a man on a mission, Derek and Maggie for making the leaders’ (Helen’s and James’) lives a lot easier by doing the “to do” jobs they didn’t need to think about, Helen for being a great assistant leader, the locals (Roy, Colin, Michael) for being brilliant once again and everyone else for making it such a fantastic camp. James didn’t really need to do much leading as you all just self motivated yourselves. One last thanks goes to Gordon for the comment of the week. Remember those folks who went on the boat trip back to the basin where our accommodation boat was moored? Well, Gordon asked once the dredging boat had left “how is everyone getting back to the Haybay, do we have enough van drivers?” I apologise if the boating folks fancied a trip in the van to make it feel like you had come
Above: the big hollow rotten tree. Below: dragging vegetation out of the river
“From the start of the restoration of this iconic lock to the end of the week we were treated to almost restaurant quality catering”
Camp report Cotswold Canals
Inglesham Lock Week 2: 20-27 Aug completed, and week three’s leader - who
was working locally and called to see us a It is said that an army marches on its stomcouple of times - said that reconstruction ach. Well, after this camp, the WRGies can would begin with his team. be added to the list, it being a week of two Not all of our team arrived on the Satinterests with the actual work being matched urday, but those there by then were ‘treated’ by the all-day wondering what grub would to a film about site Health & Safety, before a be served that evening. From the start of the visit to Eisey Lock to see that in its 99.9% restoration of this iconic lock to the end of finished state (gates excluded) and back to the week we were treated to an almost resbase for dinner. Base was Kempsford Village taurant quality style of catering. Hall, a first for that, and whilst it would be The chef for the week was Alan Watts, hard to beat Unit 4 Brimscombe Port Indus(ably assisted for a brief stay by his lady). trial Estate which I had the pleasure to expe‘Newbie’ Alan had served an apprenticeship rience last year on one of the last remaining with the previous week’s chef, although I camps at Goughs Orchard Lock, the facilities suspect that he has had loads of prior experi- were nevertheless adequate. The two ladies ence! During the week he made jam and on camp had exclusive use of their separate desserts using locally picked fruit (from the bathroom; in fact, Ju Davenport had her own lock site), together with bread and rolls, fruit “en suite”. The men shared 2 cubicles, 2 buns and flapjacks (supplemented by those urinals, and a wash basin the size of Barnie’s brought by Richard Tyler). He even eyed-up water bowl. However with tolerance and a road-kill deer, and I reckon if he had been patience we all got through the week. able to get it onto the carrier on his bicycle, Sunday morning was bright and clear, we would have had venison meals, with and after we gathered our clothes for our plenty left over for the following week’s after-work shower at nearby Highworth camp! All his superb offerings were made in Leisure Centre, off we went to the lock. an oven literally falling apart. The back Leader Martyn Worsley, deputy Ju, and ‘RAF cover plate was lacking its holding screws, so Martin’ Thompson laid out their plans for the when the door was open the back plate fell forward, bringing the shelves with it and, if he wasn’t quick enough, the dishes supporting our meals would have been on the floor. Due to his lightning reactions and skill, no meals were harmed during production, and despite all the sweated labour on the dig, nobody lost any weight! The dig itself could almost have taken second place to the quality of the meals, but much progress was achieved, and by the end of our week (the second of three programmed) signifiFirst things first: get the gazebo up! cant excavation had been
week, and we spilt up into various groups. The tasks to be completed by us included demolition of one end of the lock chamber, creating a van and car parking area, excavation of a spill weir and basin, and removing various trees and root systems. The first job, of course was to erect the gazebo and get the Burco going – WRGies need plenty of drinks. The demolition of the end of the lock and excavation produced an enormous amount of spoil, which was used to make a dam beDemolition of old brickwork under way... hind the remaining lock gates. The demolition gave us another task to be done. Yes you’ve be deterred from removing tree roots, and guessed it – BRICK CLEANING! By the end from going deep into the bowels of a paddle of the week, we had produced over 600 hole, to clean out rubble and remove water. clean reusable bricks to be used by the folHe had to work almost doubled over and lowing camp. when he emerged having done as much as At this point I apologise for any inaccu- he could, he looked much like a swamp racies, omissions and errors as I wasn’t monster from Hammer film. Well done to assigned to writing this report until half way him, as when we arrived on site the next through the week. Those of you approachday, there was as much water back in the ing my age, or who have reached it, will hole as the day before. know the tricks that the memory plays. I can The social side of the week befitted the remember the name of primary school beautiful friendly Cotswolds we were in, friends, but not the names of those friends I though that statement could easily have been made at the camp! different if the RAF Fairford base (partly On Wednesday, a splinter group was visible from the hall) had still been fully seconded to go to Eisey Lock for the mornoperative. The village pub was a few mining, to assist the Cotswold Canal Trust mem- utes stroll away, and it was very hospitable bers to help complete the concreting of the pub, with really friendly locals. One evening, floor of what is to become their woodwork Janet and Ian suggested a trip to Cricklade to shop, and which had been started the previa pub in the town. Surprise, surprise – it ous week. On time, the vehicle containing was the CAMRA Pub of the Year 2011. some 4 cubic metres of Readymix arrived, There were 8 beers on offer, each with a and so began the frantic laying and levelling. sampling glass in front of the pump. A great Job completed, and with gratitude ringing in trip! our ears, we went to continue work at our We had a half-day holiday on Wednesown site. day, when we were driven through heavy If there were a prize for persistence and rain and almost full darkness to Saul Juncdevotion to duty, it would be a choice betion to be taken on a cruise on the Sharpness tween Andrew and young Andy. Andrew Canal, courtesy of the CCT, though the poor was tasked with planning and making the car weather had improved. It was fascinating to park, and he would not allow any rubbish on find that we were actually floating on what his area. His selection of materials was exwas to become part of Bristol’s drinking pert, and he did this with zeal and authority, water! After this ‘voyage of discovery’, a fish though we did have to persuade him that to ’n’ chip supper was laid on in the Saul Heritconvert the Portaloo to his attendant’s hut age Centre, followed by a talk on the history was a step too far! Young Andy was not to of the area. On the way home we stopped at
The Ship Inn at Brimscombe Port, next to Goughs Orchard. Some went to see the lock by torchlight, while the rest of us socialised in the bar. Martin had told us of a pub in Fairford which had a skittle alley, and that they would welcome us there on Thursday. However, the name of the venue had been not been remembered quite correctly, and after hunting for The Anchor in vain, we settled on The Plough which had a skittle alley and was, in fact, the pub we wanted. ...and nearing completion later in the week There isn’t a pub in Fairford called The Anchor, but it did enable us to have a walk through this lovely town as dusk settled, and very nice it was too. We all had a superb night in there, having been given exclusive use of the alley room. Richard, who allegedly is a regular player, regaled us with the rules he plays to, and after we split into 2 teams, we began the match. Half way through, the landlord came in to see how we were doing, and told us the proper rules! When we did play properly, the tournament was won by our Spanish camp member, who had never seen a skittle alley before! This was Raul, who was a schoolteacher from Salamanca, and whilst on site was a human dynamo. He would undertake any task with real vigour, and was hard to slow down. We also had an Italian member, who was Phillipo from Milan. (On a personal note, I was quite moved to find 2 non-British lads giving their time and energies to help restore our heritage.) Unfortunately, the week ended on a wet note as a thunderstorm and heavy rain halted proceedings at about 2.30 on the Friday. However, it had cleared up by the time of the week’s highlight, which was the magnificent barbecue organised and cooked by chef Alan assisted by a couple of others. Not only were the meats, various salads, and breads superb, but the desserts that he had made were of cordon bleu standard. What he did with a packet of ginger nut biscuits, some brandy and fresh cream was a work of culinary art! There were a couple of other highlights worth a mention. One was the ongoing jigsaw marathon, which was eventually completed on the last evening, with Chris putting the final piece into place. Then, of course, we cannot forget the appearance of a full camera crew from the BBC, filming the day in the life of a WRGie. (Not quite true, it was one young lady filming a piece to be shown sometime next year.) Keith Hope PS It’s always nice to get a mention in Navvies, so here are the other present during the week - Julian Davey, Colin Fisher, Chris Patience, Nick Swift, Dan Thompson.
Everybody’s favourite job: brick cleaning!
WRG at 40
“The intrigue, the excitement and the politics, the verbal backstabbing, just the atmosphere was great fun” - Nigel Stevens
Forty views for forty years
40 Views for 40 Years The tenth in a series of articles to celebrate WRG’s 40th(-ish) birthday by capturing the views of people who have been involved in various capacities. Up to the Yorkshire/Lancashire border to Sowerby Bridge to see Nigel Stevens. A different view: Nigel was around in the early days of WRG but took up a hire boat business and now actively digests what’s happening in the world of waterways.
Q: How and when did you first get involved in canal restoration? A: That’s relatively easy – it was 1968 and it was Op Ash [Operation Ashton]. I can’t remember exactly how I saw that it was on but I had just been reading – this is corny but it’s true – I’d just been reading Rolt’s book Narrow Boat, and Narrow Boat said you should go and join the IWA and I did. There must have been something come round from the IWA.
Q: Do you know how you got to reading Narrow Boat in the Helen Gardner
first place? A: I can’t remember – I know that my mother had got me Hadfield out of the library when I was probably mid-teens which I thought ‘interesting but boring’ if you know what I mean. It’s also possible that that was a library book got by my mother because she was very good at dishing out these things.
Q: What do you remember of the weekend itself? A: Pouring with rain, really grotty surroundings, fantastic atmosphere, bonfires, mud everywhere, huge achievement at the end of it. That was the first big dig that was to show that the Ashton could be restored in the face of much local opposition. There was a lot of calling for the canal to be properly filled in from local councillors and that kind of thing. It was that kind of stage. It’s very hard to imagine now – even the grottiest canal – it’s hard to imagine people calling for it to be filled in. There was a councillor who was much derided for having said “these canals are 20 feet deep in places” which would have been jolly nice on the Ashton. The locals were filling it in very well and we wanted it different – or rather whatever it was called then – the London working party group wanted it different and together with the Peak Forest Canal Society (which was one of the – I think – probably quite early canal societies to get itself framed to do something that was really difficult and work out how much local chatting up of people you had to do).
Q: Where were you living at this time? A: I was living in London then. Q: What did you do next after Operation Ashton? A: I guess I started going on working parties – there were regular monthly working parties organised by Graham Palmer, and I started going on those.
Q: What made you come back after that first weekend? A: Oh well it was completely enticing wasn’t it? Because to get so filthy in such a good cause – somehow being with a load of people who just knew that they could do it – that was the amazing thing and it still is – you have to believe it will happen and then it does.
Q: What kind of projects were you working on? A: We used to do a variety of things: we would have bonfires on the Slough Arm, which, at that time was threatened in some way with closure I think. It was a remainder waterway and people were worried about that – I don’t think they needed to be but they thought they were. We used to do gardening things there. I think fairly early on I would have turned up at Stratford because there were working parties on the Stratford Canal of a maintenance type in the winter. Later that became much more organised and I was one of the people who organised a regular series of working parties – we would take on certain projects and do them for London and for other groups and we had lots of help from people all around the country – everybody would take their turn. Because we knew it was our canal - the volunteers’ canal. I mean I was nothing to do with restoring it, but everybody knew it belonged to us and we therefore had to turn up to do our bit to maintain it. We used to do quite a lot at Marple which we obviously loved going to – we did a lot of joint jobs with the Peak Forest Canal Society who were masterminding all that. We helped people like Ian Mac and various others – we came to do what we were told. They were always very hospitable.
Q: What skills did you have before you started all this? A: I’ve never had any skills at anything. Q: WRG was formed in 1970 – what can you remember from that time in terms specifically about the forming of WRG? A: The intrigue, the excitement and the politics, the verbal backstabbing, just the atmosphere was great fun. I didn’t really understand, if truth be told, that much about it except we knew who the good guys and the bad guys were. Which all came from Graham Palmer and probably Harry Arnold and others – they were right of course – not in a nasty way but they were right about who could see what needed to be done and who couldn’t. The other thing was the fantastic scaffolding structure that somebody conceived, and that was erected at the Guildford Rally. Graham had conned somebody in to lending us a digger for the weekend which was sat there looking very aggressive and very [pause] yellow. We had this big stand up with WRG written on it and that was the first time anybody had heard of WRG at all, and it was great fun. Q: What was Graham like? A: Well you can’t sum him up easily - he had an amazing ability to see where he wanted to go, and to articulate it and to do so both in writing and speaking – not everyone can do that. He could see the power of the press. If you compare him for just a moment with David Hutchings – Hutch never particularly wrote things down – he went and ‘did’ and was of course a tremendous leader. Graham could see that you needed to plot where you were going and take the steps along the way – he was clever at that. He also had the Bill Clinton / Tony Blair ability to make you think you were the most important person when he was talking to you and I don’t mean that in any nasty way at all, he actually could do it. And that’s what made him a tremendous leader because he could bring people with him when they started out with a quite different point of view. If you think of, for example, the perpetual tension between ‘do we do the local project?’ / ‘do we think nationally?’ / ‘do we have orders of priority?’ – all those issues which have never been and can’t be resolved, and shouldn’t actually when you think about it – he was very good at bringing locals into seeing that there was a national point of view without stopping enthusiasm for the local project.
Q: Going back to the work - how long were you involved with WRG in London? A: I started in ’68, sometime I became working party organiser for the London WRG and I did that till ’75. Then we went abroad for a bit and it stopped at that point.
Q: How did London WRG get formed as the term ‘London WRG’? A: It was Graham’s baby if it wasn’t Tim Dodwell’s – possibly originally. Slightly interesting as to what the genesis was. But it was originally the working party group of the London and Home Counties Branch of the IWA I think. You’ve got Tim Dodwell the older brother, John the younger who, as you know, is still very active, Graham and lots of other people that I wouldn’t necessarily know doing things in the late ’60s. I think this was all after the Stratford was open. Graham and John Dodwell used to go more or less every weekend to Stourbridge on their own and that wasn’t really anything to do with what became the London working party group but it was a fantastic commitment that they did up there. This is all before my time. Somehow or other Graham got the idea – he started printing the first Navvies - a newsletter for the London working party group with dates in, really. Graham somehow thought it would go national and it did. I don’t know how he thought of it becoming a national thing – that’s what distinguished him from anybody else because, like many good ideas, anybody could have had it but only one person did.
Q: How’s Navvies changed over the years? A: It’s posher printing now that Chris Griffiths does it rather than the guy in the bottom of the stock exchange who used to do it in his lunch break. The beauty of it is that it hasn’t really changed if you think about it. It still contains the details of what’s going to happen and what has happened. It’s still full of humour – one might almost say wit – it has lots of different views in it. I used to be allowed to write lots of stuff for Navvies and I’m sure Graham didn’t agree with it, I’m sure nobody else did but it was great fun and people still write stuff and aren’t afraid to say what they think. It remains therefore far and away the best of the waterway magazines without any question.
Q: What are you most proud of about your involvement? A: I was proud of the culvert that we built on the first WRG camp but [British] Waterways have gone and took it away so I can’t be anymore. What I’ve gained from it is quite another matter which is lifelong friends; a lifelong approach of how to do things. I learnt a tremendous amount from Graham, from Hutchings, from other people about to do things; how to get things done (the two things not being the same). I think the idea that you can see something needs doing and so you go and do it – I think that must have come from WRG and is invaluable. Bear in mind that when you meet navvies from years ago you can pick up exactly where you were. You can get terribly deep about how much stuff there is that WRG has in it and gives to people in countless thousands by now. It’s much more than just the physical results.
Q: You said ‘on the first camp’ – as in canal camp? A: Yes the first summer camp which I think I probably organised. Alan Petrie did all the actual organisation I was supposed leader on the week - it was either a week or a fortnight. We did some work on the Stratford that was with principally people who weren’t already navvies, which is I think what still happens. That was an interesting way of doing it and it did work – it’s gone on being magnified ever so many times – it’s a brilliant concept isn’t it?
Q: Who has inspired you? A: Well I guess everybody has different bits that they throw into that don’t they? Particularly Graham and David Hutchings. I was always inspired by Robert Aickman but I never met him – I’ve got a postcard from him which doesn’t count for very much. Anybody who was what you’d call a navvy really.
Q: What happened in 1980? A: In 1980 we moved up here – we took over the hire fleet here in Sowerby Bridge which was then clearly at the dead end of Calder and Hebble. We bought it because it was cheap – we bought it also on the rebound from somewhere else that had collapsed. At that time, it’s bizarre but true, you couldn’t just start your own hire fleet if you wanted as you can now – quite sensibly – you had to purchase an existing business, otherwise Waterways would have a huge sulk. There was never a good reason for it but they didn’t need good reasons. This was the place that had the sufficient number of boats – licences specifically rather than the boats – that you could imagine making a living from it. It turned out, providentially, that the Rochdale Canal might be restorable and it obviously wasn’t, so that was quite fun. It was clearly lunatic but there became a point when there was a restored stretch that was six miles long – still cut off but six miles long. We, having been suggested it at a party, put a boat on it for short breaks and it worked – so we put another one on and that worked. It did actually help the canal look real and therefore it did do a bit towards making people realise that they could and should reopen the canal and the rest became history. We’re still the biggest operator on the Rochdale.
Q: How has Sowerby Bridge changed in the time you’ve been here? A: It’s one of those towns that clocked what the canal could do for it. Before we came it went through the ‘let’s fill it in’ phase, and that seemed a good idea and they filled it in and built a road on it. Then they realised it would be even cleverer to open it up and nobody’s ever regretted that. It’s just now part of the scenery. I think whenever anyone’s making a fuss about ‘oh – it costs a lot of money to look after canal and only boaters get the benefit and’ all this rubbish you keep hearing, principally from British Waterways who really should know better – you should think of the centre of Hebden Bridge, because the canal goes through right next to a big park, and there’s always people about. If you imagine putting that back to what it was only 20 years ago – with a few shopping trolleys sticking out of the reeds – in what way would that be progress?
Q: What would you say WRG’s greatest achievement was?
A: Most of the drive to restore canals now and actually to keep it open you can probably pin down to WRG. If you really imagined a parallel universe in which WRG had never existed you’d have a problem because people wouldn’t take it as natural to restore canals. The most obvious thing you can say that WRG has done is to survive and to prosper and that is immensely difficult. If you look at how much bigger and how much more organised and deeply rooted and professional it is now, but without stopping being fun, it is an astonishing achievement. It continues to attract new people, presumably mostly young, gives them a good time, gets something out of them – they get a lot out of WRG but it keeps on doing it and it’s therefore quite different from your typical canal society, in which in the nicest possible way the people get older. Now there are people in WRG who are active now who are my sort of age who started out as youngsters, but there are a hell of a lot more who are young.
Q: Do you have a favourite derelict canal? A: A friend of mine and I sometimes plot the Queensbury Canal which restores the Halifax Branch or Arm whatever it is up to Halifax and then takes an abandoned railway line up to Queensbury which is the highest sort of wet place in Yorkshire or something – I’m not sure exactly its qualities are – you then go across somehow to Bradford and you pick up the Bradford Canal so you join the Calder and Hebble onto the Leeds and Liverpool – that would be fun because the railway tunnel has a slope in it and so you’d have the world’s first water slope in a tunnel!! So no – not really! The [Lancaster] Northern Reaches is the sort of ‘bleeding obvious’ one but it’s quite impossible at the moment to conceive how you would do it because there’s no payback. That it is the problem. It’s only the urban ones that work, and nothing works at the moment does it? So you’ve got to wait until the next set of ideas of how things can be done. All you’ve got to do is be ready. Like the Millennium money – now that was made up money wasn’t it? – that had absolutely no justification to exist at all but suddenly it did, so you grab it, and they did! That’ll happen – it’ll come when it comes.
Q: Where do you see WRG’s future? A: It’s really tricky, isn’t it, because Canal Martin Ludgate
& River Trust thinks that it can get a lot more volunteer input into the waterways and I really, really don’t think it wants to do that by using existing volunteers – it wants to create its own. And there is a good bit in that: you The ‘bleeding obvious’ one: Lancaster northern reaches can understand that they don’t want to queer other people’s pitches, but they really want to be able to organise people to do it – their way. And you would if you were them – WRG does, after all. If you want to work with WRG you have, within limits, got to do it the way that WRG says it happens. And I’m not just talking about health and safety – everything. The whole point is that it is directed by its senior people and it has a plan and a strategy of where it’s going. In a sense Waterways are right to want their own volunteers but I don’t think they have the least understanding yet of how volunteers work, and I’m quite concerned that they will find it a lot more difficult than they think. One would like to see something you can’t yet see of how WRG and the new organisation would find ways of working together, but it would mean an awful lot of letting go because WRG only succeeds when it’s directing the project itself on its terms. If the trust can let go in that way and say ‘here is a project: go do it’ then that would work. I don’t think the trust is thinking that way yet – I hope WRG will find ways of explaining.
WRG at 40 Forty views for forty years
“My first contact with WRG was Mick Beattie. You can imagine what that was like.” - Spencer Greystrong
Spencer Greystrong of Suffolk (Mick Beattie’s biggest fan incidentally) has done camps and also focused on the restoration of the River Gipping – he is a local feature on ‘The Ipswich’ as WRG leaders like to refer to it. He has a reputation for holding opinions and was keen to express them in print.
Q: How and when did you first get involved with canal restoration? with my wife and friends. As a result of which I thought I ought to find out a little bit more about the history of the canal system in this country. Found out that we had an IWA branch in Ipswich which wasn’t that far away, joined there, started doing a bit of restoration work on the Ipswich and Stowmarket navigation (on the Gipping). I then thought to myself it would be nice to try somebody else’s canal so I had my very first canal camp in Bude with Mick Beattie leading. My first contact with WRG was Mick.You can imagine what that was like.
A: I first got involved with canals when I went on a narrowboat holiday
Q: What year was that? A: 1998 I think. I remember turning up at the headquarters up at Stratton, in this draughty old parish hall and Mick Beattie said ‘you sleep over there’ and he pointed to a floor and I thought ‘hmmm – OK’. Over the next week I got to know quite a lot more about Mick and his special ways, shall we say. It was good fun – I enjoyed it – so I went back to the next one as well, which he was leading.
Q: So was that the reason you went back – because it was fun? A: Yeah, exactly and of course one mustn’t forget Sue’s cooking. That was another reason for going back because Sue Burchett was the chef and her cooking was quite outstanding. She got a bit annoyed with Mick now and again; when he said we’d be back at 5 and turned up at half past six.
Q: How did restoration carry on from then? A: It was there so I thought I’d better carry on doing it; got involved in some more camps - went on the Cotswolds Trust, one on the Wey and Arun, Wilts and Berks. Just carried on really doing it as and when I felt like it. Our [Ipswich IWA Branch] main object was to get the River Gipping underway and we were unique, the only IWA branch in the country that had our own restoration project going – everyone else had trusts and things. We’ve worked on two locks so far, we’re working on the third at the moment. It was opened in 1793 as a navigation between Ipswich and Stowmarket. The first couple of years were a bit of a disaster because flooding closed it but after that it started working very well and it was one of the main drivers for bringing traffic and work into the middle of Suffolk. [It] carried manure from London up to Stowmarket so you could spread it on the fields. By the 1840s/1850s it was at the height of its powers. Then in 1860 somebody decided they were going to open a railway and that didn’t do the canal a lot of good at all but luckily they leased the canal to the railway and as a result of which they were able to pay a dividend for the next 25 years even though trade fell by 75%. Then when they went back to the railway and said would you like to renew the lease and the railway company quite clearly said ‘not flaming likely’. By 1900 it was virtually derelict – in 1930 it was closed permanently. And that’s the way it lay until the 1970s when we came along – the IWA and started saying ‘let’s do something about it’.
Q: Which other people are involved? A: It started out as the IWA and the trust itself was formed by IWA members basically: Colin Turner (our work manager), myself, Chard Wadley, Lewis Tyler.
Q: So what was your first task? A: The IWA’s first task was to try and renovate the towing path. We worked in conjunction with the
councils and we actually managed to recreate the entire path as a public footpath which we were very proud of – 16 miles and you can walk from one end to the other without hindrance. The only problem is that it is a truly rural waterway and to get vehicles near it (unless you’re at the ends) is fairly difficult. Then we thought we’d start working on some locks so we chose the Bosmere Lock in the middle of Needham Market. It’s a big green area where a lot of London WRG at Bosmere in 1993. Scaffolding has come on a bit since then... people go to, so we thought start there, everybody will see what we’re doing. We’ve restored that lock, we got awards totalling about £20,000 from various bodies for doing it. Then we moved to the next one at Creeting which we finished off 2 or 3 years back and now we’re down at Baylham Lock. We reckon it’s pretty good, and apparently most of the people who read Navvies reckon it’s pretty good because we won the award for the best camp. So we’re doing well and we’ve virtually finished Baylham now. We reckon by the end of next year it’ll be over.
Q: What has WRG’s involvement been? A: WRG has been down there more times than I care to remember. We’ve had WRG ever since we started on the first lock back in the 80s – without them we wouldn’t have been able to do what we’ve done. Realistically we are a group of old people who like mucking about on a Saturday – we do things and we get things done – but to get the real big jobs done we needed help and WRG was the place to go. They were always there – called them – they turned up. In fact I keep getting phone calls from people like Ed saying ‘can we have a camp this year as well please’ – but unfortunately we haven’t got enough work this year. We look like we’ll be calling them again, hopefully, on the next lock which is at Badley. Badley is one of the last remaining turf and timber sided locks in the country, there are only 2 on our navigation. This particular lock is in a terrible state; it needs to be repaired and it needs to be repaired now. We need to get the trees out which are growing out the sides, we need to repair the timber, relay the turf – there’s a huge amount of work to do. Our biggest problem is that we think that the landowner is going to give us grief. If we get the agreement then I reckon we’ll be looking at a camp every year probably for the next 5 years! We love having WRG down because we know we can rely on them to do the job we want. We’ve got leaders who come down, look at the job, decide whether it can be done and most times they’ll say ‘yeah we can do that’ and they’ll do it. The last one Ed was leading we had, I think, 12 tonne of ready mix concrete to lay and that was hard work. The previous camp, it decided to rain on the first 6 tonne and they had 3 foot of water running over the top of nicely laid new concrete. It worked, we got it right, we sorted it in the end and the lock’s virtually finished.
Q: Aside from the locks what else needs to be done? A: The number one requirement, of course, is to persuade the Environment Agency to allow us to turn the River Gipping into a navigable waterway and that is going to be a major battle. Not necessarily the entire length because that’s probably not feasible but at least perhaps the bit from Needham Market down to Baylham. The problem we have at the moment is that to put lock gates on a flowing waterway means that we
impound the water and there is some European legislation that says you’re not allowed to impound flowing water any more – not without a whole pile of rules and regulations being followed. It is something we want to do. We want to put a trip boat on to run people up and down to say ‘this is the river – this is what it used to look like’. One day.
Q: Are you still active on canal camps? A: Unfortunately not. I haven’t done a distance camp for about 5 years. The problem is grandchildren. I’d love to get back, I really would, it’s one of the nicest weeks of a holiday I ever have. I get back on a Saturday night and I probably sleep for about the next 24 hours because I’m totally knackered.
Q: What’s your favourite camp been? A: I suppose the one that sticks in my mind is the first one. Because Mick was there and no matter how you would describe him, and I’ve said a lot of words to describe Mick, but I suppose ‘a character’ would be the best way. He’s a down to earth sort of bloke who will call a spade a spade. He will make things happen and he won’t treat fools gladly. What I like about Mick was that he would lead a camp, he would get people to do what he wanted done and if he found that it wasn’t being done and we were running out of time he’d jump in and do it himself. There was no issue about ‘I can’t finish it off so I won’t bother’ – he said he was contracted to do a job and he’d finish it. I like Mick. The other one that sticks in my mind is Over – the Hereford and Gloucester. I wrote a fairly raw piece for Navvies about that and all hell broke loose apparently.
Q: What are you most proud of about your involvement? A: The fact that we’ve got a
derelict waterway, we’ve taken it, and we’ve turned it into hopefully what will not be a derelict waterway in the next how many? I don’t know 5, 10 years? I looked at the bridge that we, that WRG built mainly down at Creeting. It was a disaster, it had been patched with old concrete and God knows what else. We took it down, we rebuilt it, and we’ve now got a bridge that anybody would be proud of and it’ll last another 200 years. We needn’t have done it because all it was a bridge to nowhere, an accommodation bridge that went from a field to a field. But if we hadn’t have done it Something to be proud of: Creeting Bridge under restoration would anybody? The EA would have come along and thought ‘that looks dangerous – we’d better knock that down – we’ll put a lump of ironwork across it – that’ll do’.
Q: What would you say WRG’s greatest achievement was? A: The fact that we could and have called on them to do work for us that has always ended up being done. If we agree what the plan is for the week – and it might rain for 3 days – never the mind – it’ll get done. You can rely on them to do more or less anything you want them to do. Baylham – we would never have done that on our own – even the strong lads on WRG by the end of the week, they knew they’d done a week’s work. I think we were still laying concrete about half past six one night. It reminds me - young Ed [Walker] – when we were working down on the Wey & Arun. He put me down in the bottom of the lock putting the re-bar together for a concrete pour. I hadn’t finished it. I was trying to put it all together and he’d ordered the concrete. I was at one end of the lock and he was at the other pouring concrete. I think we finished at 7pm that night and decided there was no point in going back to the head quarters for a meal because it’ll all gone so we stopped off for fish and chips and a beer (bloody lovely).
Q: What would you say WRG was not so good at? A: They’re rather elitist now and again. I should imagine for young people coming in right at the very
beginning they are likely to be put off by the fact that we’ve got a lot of people who know each other and are cliquey.
Q: What’s the most useful skill you’ve learnt and who did you learn it from? A: Bricking. I had never laid a brick in me life before and I got involved down at Ipswich. Pete Bowers – he’s the one I got my brick laying skills from. And then I started learning how to put scaffolding up properly.
Q: What’s changed for canal restoration? A: What changed in the main was the health and safety talks – I know we all moan and jeer when the video comes on but I remember the first health and safety talk I went to was Mick’s – to be fair he did his best but it wasn’t going in that far. I think people are becoming more aware of what problems could exist. Health and Safety is a nasty phrase, people don’t like it, but if you treat it properly and you act sensibly Health and Safety isn’t a problem. People try and look for excuses – ‘you’re not allowed to do that because health and safety rules say you’re not’ – no they don’t – what they say is: assess the risk, if you think the risk is acceptable then go and do it. I think we’ve grasped that idea but I’m not sure outside organisations have. I think, for example, BW will grasp at the straw called health and safety when we say ‘we would like to come and help you – we’re volunteers’. We’re not paid but we’ve done it a lot before and we do know what we’re doing and BW will say ‘um – you haven’t been through all the training courses’.
Q: Who has inspired you? A: I suppose Mick Beattie again. He was my first contact with WRG and if it had been all bad that would have been the end of it. He must have done something right. We got on – to the extent that he allowed me to look at his Land Rover.
of a better word, takes off I can see WRG in the middle of it all – I can see Mike Palmer sitting at the top of the tree along with his colleagues from IWA being very much involved in running our new waterway system. The problem that BW already have got is money, they are not going to be able to pay all the people they need to pay in order to get the restoration work done, even to maintain what they’ve got now. Whether they like it or not they’re going to have to live with the volunteer movement – they have no choice now. They might try and put a lot of rules and regulations into it to put more control over it but the government’s big society hasn’t got any money anyway so it’s going to have to rely on people to give their time for free and in fact pay for the privilege. WRG will have to be in the middle of that – they can’t afford not to be. I can see it getting really, really big. There will be more and more people involved. They might have to start thinking about paying more people in WRG to keep it running. There’s a long way to go.
Q: Where do you see WRG’s future? A: If the National Trust for waterways, for want
Some of you who are paying attention will have spotted that Spencer’sinterview has Spencer in action on the Tirfor at Baylham been available on the web for a little while now. This was done with the intention of putting more up there which, for various reasons, just hasn’t happened. I couldn’t bear Spencer’s interview to be the only one not printed in Navvies so we’ve done that this time - enjoy (again if necessary). More interviews on their way next Navvies (Martin thinks I might get this done by the time we’re 45 - I think 44 is achievable....) Helen Gardner
Navvies diary Your guide to all the forthcoming work parties
Dec 26-Jan 1 Camp 2011-22 Montgomery Canal: Christmas Camp. Leaders: Gary Summers and Mel Dec 26-Jan 1 Camp 2011-23 Thames & Severn Canal: Inglesham Lock - Cotswolds. Leader Martin T Dec 26-Jan 2 WBCT Wilts & Berks Canal New Year Camp: Scrub bashing, stump pulling, towpath reprofiling with 5-tonne excavator,replanking a lift bridge. Fox Jan 6-12 WAT Wendover Arm: Seven-day weekend. Bed & bank lining. Jan 7/8 wrgNW Grantham Canal: Lock clearances at Woolsthorpe Jan 7/8 Essex WRG Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation: Accommodation on the Haybay. Jan 7/8 KESCRG Thames & Severn Canal: Inglesham Lock. Accom at Kempsford VH Jan 14/15 London WRG Thames & Severn Canal: Inglesham Jan 14 Sat wrgNW ‘Paper Chase’ waste paper collection Jan 28/29 wrgBITM Wilts & Berks Canal: Steppingstones Lane Bridge. Cutting & laying capp plus scrub bashing. NOTE NEW DATE Jan 22 Sun WRG Committee & Board Meetings: Rowington Feb 3-9 WAT Wendover Arm: Seven-day weekend. Bed & bank lining. Feb 4/5 wrgNW Grantham Canal: provisional. Woolsthorpe flight Feb 4/5 Essex WRG Wendover Arm: Accommodation at Ivinghoe Aston Feb 4/5 London WRG Hereford & Gloucester Canal (to be confirmed) Feb 4/5 KESCRG Basingstoke Canal: Towpath Feb 4/5 NWPG Wey & Arun Canal: Loxwood Visitor Centre works Feb 11-18 Camp 201201 Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation, Essex Feb 18/19 wrgBITM Grantham Canal: Manns Bridge. Scrub bashing and stump pulling. Feb 18 Sat wrgNW ‘Paper Chase’ waste paper collection Feb 24-26 WRG Forestry Grand Western Canal Feb 25/26 London WRG Somersetshire Coal Canal Feb 26 Sun SCA Southern Canals Association: K&A Devizes winter seminar Mar 2-8 WAT Wendover Arm: Seven-day weekend. Bed & bank lining. Mar 3/4 wrgNW Cromford Canal Mar 3/4 Essex WRG Grantham Canal: provisional, dependent on work. Mar 3/4 KESCRG Wilts & Berks Canal: Steppingstones/Wildmoor Bridge. Accom at Watch Mar 10/11 London WRG Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation Mar 11 Sun WRG Committee & Board Meetings: Rowington Mar 17/18 wrgBITM Chichester Ship Canal Mar 24/25 NWPG Wey & Arun Canal: Gennets Lock access construction Mar 24 Sat wrgNW ‘Paper Chase’ waste paper collection Mar 29-Apr 5 WAT Wendover Arm: Seven-day weekend. Bed & bank lining. Mar 31/Apr 1 London WRG To be arranged Mar 31-Apr 9 Camp 201203 Chesterfield Canal. Leaders George Rogers and Steve Baylis Apr 6/7/8/9 wrgNW To be arranged Apr 6-13 Camp 201202 Hereford & Gloucester Canal: Over extension. Leaders Martin Thomson a
For details of diary dates beyond the end of this list ple
Canal Camps cost ÂŁ56 per week unless otherwise stated. Bookings for WRG Camps identified by a camp number e.g. 'Camp 2012-01' should go to WRG Canal Camps, Island House, Moor Road, Chesham HP5 1WA. Tel: 01494 783453, email@example.com. Diary compiled by Dave Wedd. Tel: 01252 874437, firstname.lastname@example.org
Parker Thompson Rachael Banyard
01494-783453 01494-783453 01249-892289
email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com
Roger Leishman David McCarthy Frank Wallder Bobby Silverwood Tim Lewis David McCarthy Dave Wedd
01442-874536 0161-740-2179 01992-636164 07971-814986 07802-518094 0161-740-2179 01252-874437
firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org
Mike Palmer Roger Leishman David McCarthy Frank Wallder Tim Lewis Bobby Silverwood Bill Nicholson
01564-785293 01442-874536 0161-740-2179 01992-636164 07802-518094 07971-814986 01844-343369 01494-783453 01252-874437 0161-740-2179 07973-877380 07802-518094
email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org bookings@wrgBITM.org.uk
01442-874536 0161-740-2179 01992-636164 07971-814986 07802-518094 01564-785293 01252-874437 01844-343369 0161-740-2179 01442-874536 07802-518094 01494-783453 0161-740-2179 01494-783453
email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org bookings@wrgBITM.org.uk email@example.com
and Gary Summers
Dave Wedd David McCarthy Clive Alderman Tim Lewis Linda Wilkinson Roger Leishman David McCarthy Frank Wallder Bobby Silverwood Tim Lewis Mike Palmer Dave Wedd Bill Nicholson David McCarthy Roger Leishman Tim Lewis David McCarthy
firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org
ease contact diary compiler Dave Wedd: see top of page
Mobile groups' socials: phone to confirm
London WRG: 7:30pm on Tues 11 days before dig. 'Star Tavern', Belgrave Mews West, London. Tim Lewis 07802-518094 NWPG: 7:30pm on 3rd Tue of month at the 'Hope Tap', West Canal societiesâ€™ regular working parties end of Friar St. Reading. Phil Dray 07956 185305 Once per month: pls check BCNS BCN waterways Mike Rolfe 07763-171735 2nd Sunday & alternate Thurs BCS Buckingham area Athina Beckett 01908-661217 Anytime inc. weekdays BCT Aqueduct section Gerald Fry 01288-353273 Every Mon and Wed CCT Cotswold (W depot) Ron Kerby 01453-836018 Every mon am Thu pm CCT Cotswold (E end) John Maxted 01285-861011 Various dates CCT Cotswold Phase 1a Jon Pontefract 07986-351412 Every Sunday ChCT Various sites Mick Hodgetts 01246-620695 Every Tuesday CSCT Chichester Canal Carley Sitwell 01243 773002 Every Tue & Wed C&BN Chelmer & Blackwater John Gale 01376-334896 Every Saturday DCT Droitwich Canal Jon Axe 0121-608 0296 4th Sunday of month ECPDA Langley Mill Michael Golds 0115-932-8042 Second Sun of month FIPT Foxton Inclined Plane Mike Beech 0116-279-2657 2nd weekend of month GCRS Grantham Canal Ian Wakefield 0115-989-2128 2nd Sat of month GWCT Nynehead Lift Denis Dodd 01823-661653 Tuesdays H&GCT Oxenhall Brian Fox 01432 358628 Weekends H&GCT Over Wharf House Maggie Jones 01452 618010 Wednesdays H&GCT Over Wharf House Wilf Jones 01452 413888 Weekends H&GCT Hereford Aylestone Martin Danks 01432 344488 Every Sunday if required IWPS Bugsworth Basin Ian Edgar 0161-427 7402 Every day KACT Bradford-on-Avon Derrick Hunt 01225-863066 2nd Sunday of month LCT Lancaster N. Reaches Paul Shaw 01524-35685 1st, 2nd, 4th Sun + 3rd Sat LHCRT Lichfield Sue Williams 01543-671427 3rd Sunday of month LHCRT Hatherton Denis Cooper 01543-374370 Last weekend of month MBBCS Creams Paper Mill Steve Dent 07802-973228 Two Sundays per month NWDCT N Walsham Canal David Revill 01603-738648 2nd & last Sundays PCAS Pocklington Canal Paul Waddington 01757-638027 Every Wed and 1st Sat RGT Stowmarket Navigtn. Martin Bird 01394-380765 2nd Sunday of month SCARS Sankey Canal Colin Greenall 01744-731746 1st Sunday of month SCCS Combe Hay Locks Derrick Hunt 01225-863066 Most weekends SHCS Basingstoke Dave Wedd 01252-874437 Last weekend of month SCS Stover Canal George Whitehead 01626-775498 2nd Sunday of month SNT Sleaford Navigation Mel Sowerby 01522-856810 1st weekend of month SUCS Newhouse Lock Mike Friend 01948-880723 Every Tuesday morning TMCA Thames & Medway C Brian Macnish 01732-823725 Every Sunday & Thurs WACT varied construction Eric Walker 023-9246-3025 Mondays (2 per month) WACT tidying road crossings John Empringham 01483-562657 Wednesdays WACT Tickner's Heath Depot John Smith 01903-235790 Wednesdays WACT maintenance work Peter Jackman 01483-772132 Sundays mainly WACT Loxwood Link Kev Baker 02380-861074 Thursdays WACT Winston Harwood Grp Tony Clear 01903-774301 Various dates WACT Hedgelaying (Oct-Mar) Keith Nichols 01403-753882 1st w/e (Fri-Tue or Fri-Wed) WAT Drayton Beauchamp Roger Leishman 01442-874536 2nd Thursday of month WAT Drayton Beauchamp Pete Bowers 01255-504540 Every weekend WBCT Wilts & Berks Canal Rachael Banyard 01249-892289 Please send any additions corrections or deletions to diary compiler Dave Wedd (see previous page)
Abbreviations used in Diary: BCNS BCS BCT ChCT CBN CSCT CCT DCT EAWA ECPDA FIPT GCRS GWCT H&GCT IWPS KACT
Birmingham Canal Navigations Soc. Buckingham Canal Society Bude Canal Trust Chesterfield Canal Trust Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation Chichester Ship Canal Trust Cotswolds Canals Trust Droitwich Canals Trust East Anglian Waterways Association Erewash Canal Pres. & Devt. Assoc. Foxton Inclined Plane Trust Grantham Canal Restoration Society Grand Western Canal Trust Hereford & Gloucester Canal Trust Inland Waterways Protection Society Kennet & Avon Canal Trust
KESCRG LCT LHCRT MBBCS NWPG NWDCT PCAS RGT SCARS SCCS SHCS SCS SNT SUCS TMCA WACT WAT WBCT
Kent & E Sussex Canal Rest. Group 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
“It was always going to be a challenge managing a work camp spread over 30 miles of canal”
Letters to the editor
Dear Martin Basingstoke Canal last weekend, and in I would like to say a very big thank you to all particular to Moose and Maria. those from WRG who came to the BasingI am sure that Pete would have been stoke on 8-9 October, for the memorial delighted at all that was achieved, which reunion bash in memory of Peter Redway. included work on a lock landing, fence conIt was a great tribute to Pete who alstruction, bank washout (“dog-hole”) repairs, ways held the WRGies in high esteem – for tree felling, bollard installation, scrub clearthe way they always get on, and tackle what- ance, towpath enhancement, brickwork ever job they are asked to do. repair, overhanging tree removal and several To have some 125 people in nine work- other jobs. ing parties, spread out over 32 miles along It was always going to be a challenge the canal, and all doing different jobs, was a managing a work camp spread over 30 miles great achievement. The kitchen team also of canal, and there were the inevitable deserve congratulating as well; to feed so glitches, like tools being in the wrong place many – and widely scattered – people over etc. Nevertheless we feel that the results are two days must have a fitting tribute to Pete taken some doing. who, as I am sure many Our own volunteers know, dedicated much were also kept busy, time and effort over making sure you all had many years to the supthe machines, tools and port of the Basingstoke materials, all in the right and who was always places. But they all looking out for opportuagreed it was a great nities to improve the weekend, and Pete canal. would have been so Another Basingpleased and very proud stoke work camp (this of what you all managed time on the usual scale!) to do – if a little bit is planned for next Sumembarrassed that it was mer, details of which are all done for him. soon to be confirmed. I Incidentally when look forward to seeing rounding up all the tools some of you again then. etc, a few items went Best regards Splendid T-shirt design by Paul Cattermole astray, but two to three Martin Leech, days later Kevin, Dave, Vice-chairman Nigel and Martin had tracked them down Surrey and Hampshire Canal Society including Dave Wedd’s brush cutter that somehow got let in one of the minibuses. Dear Martin So thank you all again for your work, I would just like to say a huge thanks to and for a great tribute to Pete. Moose and Maria and the Basingstoke canal Marguerite Redway guys for all their hard work organising the reunion. Even with last minute plans with Dear Martin accommodation everyone managed to do so On behalf of the Surrey and Hants Canal much work. Pete Redway would have been Society, I would like to pass on our apprecia- proud. Also a huge thanks to the cooks for tion to the 100+ people who attended the amazing food once again. Peter Redway memorial work camp on the James Butler
Our regular roundup of progress on canal restoration around the country begins this time in the South, where there’s been some progress on Isfield Lock...
2012 will present new challenges once again. Before the next section of west chamAs the 2011 restoration season draws to a ber wall can be begun, a deep and extensive close at Isfield Lock on the River Ouse, the hole in the invert below the lower gate needs Sussex Ouse Restoration Trust (SORT) working to be repaired. At this stage this task is the parties can be satisfied with another good year target for 2012. Until it is fully investigated where the targets set for progress at the Isfield the extent of the repair is unclear and thereLock site have once again been achieved. fore the amount of time available to proceed Restrictions on access to the site during with the next section of chamber wall is the shooting season, the loss of daylight uncertain. hours as we head into winter and increasAlthough progress may seem slow to ingly difficult working conditions as the outsiders real progress is being made down weather gets wetter mean that the volunteers at Isfield lock. This progress is down to the are required to secure the site for the winter regular group of volunteers from SORT and months ahead and wait until the first spring in particular Paul Morris and Ted Lintott who warmth heralds another chance to get on between them make sure the work proceeds with the restoration. during all of the available working time. The target for this year was to demolish In addition it has to be said that the the second section of the damaged west IWA contribution towards the restoration chamber wall and then rebuild it. That has programme in the form of insurance, the been achieved. The work certainly presented expertise in design from Roy Sutton, and this more challenges than previously encounyear the availability of £2500 in a restricted tered, with three-quarters of the original donation fund courtesy of a SORT member chamber wall requiring demolition and rehave enable the restoration to proceed with building. In addition, new coping stones had confidence. to be made as the original stone ones had SORT look forward to 2012 and can either been lost or were too badly damaged see that there may be just a glimmer of light to be re-used. at the end of the tunnel. Whilst this was going on another group Terry Owen of volunteers were busy exposing and cleaning the west wing wall and the wharf wall at the upstream (north) end of the lock, that originally served the paper mill that once stood here on the west side. This required the felling of a 70’ alder tree, courtesy of WRG Forestry Team and with the express permission of the landowner. This tree had grown straight out of the wall and obviously prevented any restoration from progressing. The wing wall was restored completely with most of the final pointing being carried out by a Southampton University civil engineering student Fiona Harlow who spent one day a week at the lock during her summer holidays. The rebuilt upper west wing wall at Isfiel Lock The wharf wall awaits more work. SORT
WCBS get on with the delicate task of replacing nb Hazel’s rotten planking while maintaining the historic shape of the boat’s hull
Progress Wooden Canal Boat Society
Wooden Canal Boat Society
greenheart was donated, being originally the deck of a salvage ship. We had been given “Getting on with the Job” enough for about 90 feet of bottom, so any Withour current major restortion project split or damaged boards could be rejected. Hazel in a position to be worked on and the The best boards were planed and saw gated working areas sorted out, the next priority to fit nicely, then jacked into place and bolted was to start recording her original shape through the new keelson. Meanwhile, with before the old planking could be removed. the stempost made, we turned our attention We made moulds to form the new planking to spiling the planks to extract the informaround, and removed the tion about their exact remnants of the shattered shapes for cutting new stempost and carefully planks. This was finished pieced them together to at the end of September use as a pattern for the and the process had new one, which we began begun of carefully disto hew out of an oak log, mantling the stern end, acquired some years ago noting information about from a back garden in the bevels on the edges Wythenshawe. of each plank so that the As work on the new ones can be cut as moulds neared compleprecisely as possible. tion, we turned our attenIf you would like to tion to the new keelson. come and work on this This effectively forms the project please ring Chris spine of the boat and is on 07931 952 037 or being made from two email theboatman@ Above: a section of the new keel36ft lengths of mail.com. There is acson is cut to make a hooked scarf greenheart. The original commodation available joint Below: spiling boards are was of pitch pine, which aboard Southam. fitted to the stern to maintain the is all but unobtainable With restoration shape when planks are replaced nowadays. The two work on Hazel now well pieces are joined together under way we need to with a hooked scarf joint, start planning for the which Stuart cut with ongoing project of runincredible accuracy. The ning Hazel as a Well whole length has been Being Boat, providing carefully planed and waterway holidays for sanded as it will be expeople who really need posed to view in the them. There is still much finished cabin. fundraising to do to As we moved into ensure that the boat is September, fitting the completed and put to new bottom became the work, as well as planning top priority. This is made and organising crewing, from three inch thick towing and operation of greenheart, traditional the boat. If you are able elm also being virtually to help with this, please unobtainable today. The get in touch.
Progress Wendover Arm
Meanwhile down on the Wendover Arm of the Grand Union, they’re making progress on relining the leaky channel and building mooring walls Grand Union Wendover Arm
At the Wendover Arm Trust’s September working party, backfilling the completed canal banks with spoil above the coir rolls for the Stage 2 section of canal began: 46 metres was completed on the towpath side and 60 metres on the offside. Both banks were sown with grass seed. In addition the formwork for the first wall section of the Stage 2 mooring wall was completed ready for a readymix pour at the start of the October working party. At the October working party work started on laying the Bentomat lining on the bed of Stage 2 and continued by placing spoil above the coir rolls on both banks enabling 60 metres of bed lining to be completed. The rapid progress made on lining in four months can be seen in the two photographs below. The first three wall sections of the Stage 2 mooring wall were completed, surplus ready-mix concrete being used to form the ‘sleeping policemen’ over the joints in the Bentomat bed lining. We recently modified the design of the bending frame that we made in 1999 for bending our reinforcement. On October 13th the new frame was tested by a small team and proved highly successful. All remaining half-sheets of reinforcement were bent ready for future use in reinforced concrete walls. Above: the mooring wall. Below and Roger Leishman, Restoration Director right: progress June-Oct on the channel 01442 874536 email@example.com
...and on the Lichfield they’re planning ahead, ready to take the diverted canal under two main roads and through a staircase lock between them
Progress Lichfield & Hatherton
almost daily. We have had a major input from the now annual visit of the Jaguar-Land The Lichfield & Hatherton Canals Restoration Rover team. Obviously, the tunnelling under Trust’s Directors have held several meetings the Tamworth Road is a major project which with planners and officials from Persimmon will require funding currently far beyond the Homes concerning their plans to build on Trust’s resources. However, we now know Berry Hill, on the edge of Lichfield. This will exactly where the crossing will be made and involve, if planning permission is granted, so we can work on the far (eastern) side of building part of the Lichfield Southern Bypass the road while the window of opportunity is between London Road and Birmingham briefly open thanks to creation of a public Road. The canal must follow the bypass at park on this site. this point and so it is essential that we enIn the WS Atkins Feasibility Study for sure that canal can be engineered properly the canal, the plan was for the new Lock 27 and fully. through a very narrow corridor. to be on the west of the road and the new This is the section which includes the “pinch Lock 28 on the western side. We have now point” where a garden extension has enredesigned the section between the two croached on the canal land. It will also inmajor roads and plan to build Locks 27/28 clude two new or relocated locks. We hope as a double lock similar to one recently that by working with the builders we can get opened on the Droitwich. There are many part of the channel installed as part of their advantages in this and it will ensure an apworks by providing surface water storage. proach to the A38 tunnel which is boaterOn our existing work site at Tamworth friendly. Road the creation of the diversionary channel Meanwhile we are making steady which will eventually cross both the A38 and progress in identifying the cause of the leaks A51 has now reached the western side of the in the re-watered Pound 26 and remedying A51 with exciting progress being made them.
Tamworth Road site: the rebuilt channel towards Lock 26 heads off into the distance, foundation for the wall of the new route is in the foreground, replacing the old route which went off left
Plant Rebuilding a diesel mixer
John Hawkins has progressed on to stripping down and rebuilding the engine...
Many thanks are due to the folks at Uxbridge Marine for servicing the injector and also obtaining the various parts (the two rocker bushes were located in Sweden!) that have needed replacing. As an aside I started to fabricate the steel channel and angle iron that will form the new cross-head (this is the piece that carries the swivel pin for steering the mixer). This will then be bolted and welded into the main frame. John Hawkins
Yes, it’s still slowly happening!
Having spent a fair bit of time removing most of the old dried-on concrete and then giving all the parts a coat of red oxide it was time to start on other parts of the mixer. I had been given mixed opinions about the condition of the mixer from when I first started to do the work. My information was that the main problem was a mechanical one: failed or severely worn bearings on the drum spindle (this was obviously correct); and that the engine was OK, although it hadn’t had much of a service for quite a while. Because I was still waiting for the parts to be machined I thought it best to turn my attention to the engine, a Petter PAZ1. The old black and very gungy oil was drained out and the cylinder head removed to at least give it a de-coke, both the piston crown and the valves. The valves were quite heavily coked and in need of grinding-in. The small metalled bearings that the rockers pivoted on were also in need of replacing - I couldn’t get away with turning them! On these engines, as the nuts are undone to remove the head the cylinder barrel is also disturbed and so Above: with the cylinder head off we can see this was totally removed in order to check the piston needs a de-coke. Below: removing the state of the rings and bore. These the valves with a valve spring compressor looked to be in reasonable order, but unfortunately I found that the big-end bearings were shot. Gudgeon pin and piston were removed so that I could get to the big-end bolts. Whilst I had a bit more space the opportunity was taken to give the sump and oil strainer a good clean with white spirit. Meanwhile I had established that as well as the reported mechanical type of problem with the mixer there was also the fact that the engine wouldn’t run at a constant speed. And so the next exercise was to remove the governor, this just bolts to the side of the crankcase. On closer inspection there wasn’t really that much wear, but both of the special springs were missing. The complete unit was stripped, cleaned and the re assembled with new springs.
This year’s Reunion was different. As well as a big work party it was a tribute to a good friend. Leader ‘Moose’ describes what went into running a memorable event
and Pete Redway Memorial
Bonfire Bash, Basingstoke 8-9 Oct “The Pete Redway Memorial”
and Pete saved the day. He had this horde of 150-plus WRGies arriving, yes the day was saved but everyone agreed the work wasn’t brilliant. Indeed the technical term ‘crap’ might even have been heard. Well when we heard what the work was going to be - you guessed it - the Ash Embankment, we had our doubts. But there is a serious need to have work done here, because they are hoping to bring in contractors who will sink bore holes along the Embankment, to find where the leaks are. So the work is important, but I tried to explain to the Canal management that I could not have this as the only job. During this lead up, Verna of SHCS informed me that there was a new person, Martin Leech who had foolishly volunteered not only to be the Vice Chairman of SHCS but also to lead the work parties as well. (‘Was he drunk when he volunteered’, we wondered.) But Martin was a beginner: he had never led a work party and to be asked to help to sort the work out for this he was a little taken back. Maria and I travelled to Ash Embankment to look at the work with the Canal management and after walking 2km in a very light drizzle, had to explain that if this was
Well, it’s over! I think in the last couple of weeks leading up to the bash I must have aged very quickly! But we managed it, and I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who turned up, my site leaders for doing such a sterling job, my van drivers for having the task of making sure people got to site with tools etc. And the locals from the Surrey & Hants Canal Society who were on such a steep learning curve. Now on with my report... First a little background info: At the funeral earlier this year of Pete Redway, SHCS Chairman and local work party organiser of many years’ standing, an idea was put forward that WRG would like to run their Bonfire Bash on the Basingstoke as a fitting tribute to Pete and all his hard work. It would also help towards putting the canal back in good working order and keep it in the headlines, and say to everyone “yes we have lost Pete, but we will carry on”. It was suggested that WRG could work over the whole length of the Canal, and SHCS can use this to put pressure on the local Councils to help fund and maintain the canal. The first problem was Pete had been the local on site for nearly all the Camps and weekend digs by the travelling Wrg groups, so someone had to take on board this massive job with a deadline. In steps Verna, she had not done the organising before and she admitted she was not technical, but she had helped Peter to find the odd accom etc. Soon accommodation was found with the help of a local councillor. Next came the work: well, the older readers can remember Bonfire Bash on the Ash Embankment 2003. Pete had been asked to find accommodation and work in a hurry, the original work and site on The many tasks tackled included towpath resurfacing... another canal had fallen through,
biggest problem was no accommodation that could take the numbers now booked on - up to 74 on the last count. A hall was available but at the most could only take 60! With just two weeks to go Verna said she has found a hall but could not see it for the next couple of days, those days dragged, but we had a call from a very happy Verna. Had she had hit the bottle or was just very happy? It was of course the latter: with less than two weeks to go, the accom was confirmed and a deposit was paid, now the hard work of organising had to be crammed into less than 2 weeks. Meanwhile we were chatting to Paul Cattermole (or ‘Mole’ to most people): I had asked him if he could do one of his brilliant designs for the T Shirt, based on why we were going. It was Paul’s thoughts that brought us the final design, which everyone one thought was fantastic, Thanks Mole. [See picture on page 27 ...Ed] By now we had about 12 tasks planned to be carried out over six work sites, and we had to think about the logistics of getting people to site, ane having the correct tools available in the right places. Martin and I were talking virtually every day, some people had come forward and offered their services as team leaders, and we asked a couple more people to do it. Things were finaly coming together, but time was very short. Jude had volunteered to cook for me, and then Mitch offered to help, and Katy helped in the kitchen on Saturday. Still there were last-minute hitches. The hire company for the five minibuses started
the only work I had for this weekend I might not get many people., Martin was taking this in. I said that ‘I am hoping for up to 120 people’ and what we had first thought about was various sites along the canal doing whatever work could be done, such as replace missing bricks in Lock 1, and finishing off the landing stage that Paul and George had cracked on with during their camp, but not had time to complete. As I said Martin had no idea what WRG had in the way of kit or skills etc, so we did what WRGies are good at and we went to the local pub, to have a chat. I had also heard that the accom that we thought was booked, Verna had a horrible feeling about, and found that it was not. So Verna started looking again, by now the weekend was a month away. And we had about 36 booked on. We went away slightly concerned that we need accom and work more than Lock 1 and the Ash Embankment! I sent a list of the kit we could supply to Martin. For the next couple of weeks the proposed work was looking better: a tow path job and several others just sort of came together. Martin, with the help of Pete’s son Kevin, was thinking of kit needed and plant to be hired in, we were putting our thoughts etc across, we talked about vans, things were ...bollard installation and landing stage work... starting to get sorted... but our
...plus lots of scrub-bashing as usual
Task 1 Lock 1 continue the lock landing stage Task 2 Towpath tiding between locks 1-6 More involved then it sounds Task 3 This task we had no spare people for, so it was not carried out Task 4 Dog holes I had to ask what this meant but it is where the tow path has eroded and dogs are using it as a place to get in and out of the canal! Task 5 Chopping trees down, pollarding and removal Task 6 Erecting a wooden fence. Task 7 Fixing bollards at St John’s Flight Task 8 Ash Embankment making strips of cleared land where marked, so survey team can go in. Task 9 Towpath Norris bridge Task 10 Cookham Wharf wall remove brickwork and rebuild to make good the wall Task 11 Hart Embankment scrub bash from land and boat Task 12 Fence at Up Nately
to request driving licences and names etc, so we had to get a list A and list B as we tried to track down enough drivers (in the end we had six drivers), and then the calls asking them to not only bring their complete driving licences but a utility bill as well... and on one It has been calculated that there was a 180 WRG site we had eight brushcutters and strimmers person-days and 60 SHCS person-days which all - it would havebeen more, but one group has been valued at £15,800. (not WRG or SHCS) decided we couldn’t use theirs because of an insurance issue. Extra kit needed/used for the weekend: So finally to the weekend. I felt fairly Plant : 3 3-tonne excavators, 3 2-tonne dumpers, happy that most sites got what they should 2 rollers, 1 generator, 1 compressor and pile have: on the safety side the Risk Assesshammer, 1 wacker plate, 1 work-boat and 1 barge ments had been done and were complete; (plus 13-tonne lorry for delivery/collection) Martin had produced a booklet on each site Tools: 11 brushcutters, 6 chain saws, 1 circular with the RA, the maps, details of hospitals saw, 1 mortar rake, 1 magdrill, wheelbarrows plus etc etc and then sat with each leader making sundry loppers, slashers, scythes, bowsaws, sure they were both happy with everything. rakes, shovels, spades.... And the actual work? Well, rather than Other: 2 chemical toilets try to describe it all, I’ll refer you to the task list [right], and also to the photos of what we Materials: 90 tonnes roadstone, cement, ballast, sand, bricks, fence posts and rails, Nicospan got up to. By Saturday evening there was a mesh, backfill, piles, tie-rods, nuts, bolts..... lot of talk about how much work had comTransport: 4 vans with 2 trailers, 5 minibuses pleted or was in the process of being done and the beer went down very well (Thank you Ian for sorting that, Friday night cleared one barrel). Sunday was much the same (apart from a slight hiccup with a trailer which got sorted in the end). And at 19:00hrs we were starting our drive home, the last to leave the accom, trailers repacked and gone, the hire minibuses returned to Guildford, the hire companies’ kit being collected. Looking back over the weekend: did it do what Mike Palmer and I spoke to Verna about at the Funeral? I think so: we covered a lot of the canal, we had the press interested, we were visited by one of the new trustees for the New Waterways Charity (which will be replacing BW), and might we perhaps have motivated the Councils into action? Again a big thank you, especially for all saying ‘yes’ to me when I was on the beg, to Maria, Martin Leech, Verna Smith, Kevin Redway, My six minibus drivers, the WRG drivers, the cooks, Paul Cattermole and Jancraft (t Shirts), Team Leaders, James for being James, Ian Johnson (Beer) and for all you volunteers who did the work on site, I thank you. Dave ‘Moose’ Hearnden
Lavender Boat 20 years on the poo crew
Lavender Lady Elaine Scott lifts the lid on two decades of emptying bogs at IWA festivals
top of a very tastefully-coloured plastic garden urn. The garden centre had the exact urn-size for our hole, but failed to underWRG has celebrated 40 years; for half of that stand why Chris was unenthusiastic about I have had the pleasure of working on the waiting for the matching urnstand to be Lavender Boat at the National Festival empty- found. Next year, someone made us a staining the chemical toilets. No-one else has less steel funnel with fitting wooden lid. It done this on every available day during this works well, but being square the swirling period. isn’t as good as with the circular one. At Wakefield in 1992, Chris Davey Back to Wakefield in 1992, and left to taught me the finer points of the trade: swirl by myself while Chris was away at the you’ll need to get a good swirl into the pour- opening ceremony, I stepped back from a ing funnel or else… [you didn’t want to know pour, and fell into the canal. It was deep that ...Ed]. Our first pouring-funnel was the water and I was fine, though everyone else was worried. BW sent me to their shower as soon as we had finished the run, and presented me with a set of blue BW overalls to come home in. Since then, things have calmed down, but each year stands out for something, as in my summary opposite. Over my career in pouring, there has been a sad decline in bucket popularity (as well as sweetcorn, but that’s a different story). Buckets are by far the best form of chemical toilets with neither valves-to-leak nor bends-to-block. It was down to three buckets this year, and one of those was mine. Chris and I used to fight (gently) over who should be allowed to pour each one. I also miss the in-work entertainment of Chris’s era: a song-anddance routine on top of the tank; including our revised Beer Street song: “It’s only blue, but it’s ours and we like it”. During the 20 years, customers’ losses stand at: one lid – I dropped Jethro Tull’s cassette’s lid into our tank – and even that we recovered, washed, and gave it back the following year. Even so, boats still occasionally offer us tea and coffee (or even cold drinks and biscuits with an apology for being out). We can’t accept Funnel at the ready, Elaine prepares to swirl... all offers or we would never finish the
Certified at last ...or 20 years pouring sh*t
run. One or two pauses each day gives strength for the next helpful advice on which knob to press when emptying ‘our’ cassette: thanks, it was a surprisingly similar knob on each of the last hundred of those. Thanks also to all those boaters who tie the rubbish sacks well, who leave out their ‘dead’ where we can see it - and all who greet us with such happy faces. At the end of this year’s run, the crew presented me with two china canal-pattern mugs and a certificate. The suitable-speech wasn’t to hand at the time, so I would like to say thank you here to all the Lavender Crew members during 1992-2011. Many thanks to you all for the really good teamwork and for making a great twenty years, and a special thankyou to Chris Davey, who taught me the job, and Helen Dobbie who has led the crew in the last few years. Here’s to another 20 years of the best job on site. Elaine Scott, the Lavender Lady Favourite: the simple but increasingly rare bucket
1992-2001: highlights and low points 1992 Wakefield: Fell in 1993 Peterborough: Decided not to shout ”Bring out your dead” during Songs of Praise 1994 Waltham Abbey: First wore my red bonnet, first-edition of lavender T shirts 1995 Chester: Ride on nbTyseley, dismantling BW’s pumpout to empty tank 1996 Windmill End: woken up at 7:30 to be told “they are waiting for you at the bridge” 1997 Henley: the EA’s mega-funnel 1998 Salford: BW boat with very poor steering; entered illuminated boats and got the biggest cheer. 1999 Worcester: Cardboard horses collected after the illuminated boats 2000 Waltham Abbey: BW provided net for dry rubbish, BW men put bleach into tank which gave off clouds of gas and got hot 2001 Milton Keynes: Found broken wine glass and fork in tank whilst pumping out 2002 Huddersfield: On arrival found tanks filled the boat beneath the top plank with no room for pouring - New T shirts for crew 2003 Beale Park: Two boats, the wet boat breasting up to the tug Churn 2004 Burton: “Stairway to Heaven”, legs, blockage (see previous report in Navvies) 2005 Preston Brook: We took Bill Baileys band in the illuminated boat parade 2006 Beale Park: Churn again, EA’s Mark booked to work with us in the previous autumn 2007 St. Ives: Mud; very good EA crew 2008 Autherley: Illuminated boat parade with night lights in recycled jars 2009 Redhill: We used the Away2Service boat, and ran the chain ferry after one run 2010 Beale Park: sadly no Churn this time. Still used two boats. 2011 Burton: difficult hopper & tug, I was certificated
Where next? The Generations game Restoration, retrospective and prospective We are in a new canal age. The last 50 years have seen an astonishing change in both public and political perceptions of inland waterways. Restoration is no longer some lunatic ideal but one accepted as obvious and desirable by the man or woman in the street. If you need any proof of this go to the centre of Birmingham or Leeds where the new developments of pubs, nightclubs and restaurants face the canal, rather than backing on to it. Properties facing the canal fetch a premium of around 20 percent compared with identical properties that do not. Money has not really been a problem. Yes, the costs of restoration escalate with health and safety requirements and the greater difficulty of later canal schemes. But at the same time we have had Manpower Services, Heritage Lottery Fund, Regional Development Agencies, European Union money and others. The ease of accessing money has waxed and waned. Nevertheless I remain to hear of any well-managed, wellrespected, well-planned scheme completely held up for lack of money. Of course schemes need to fight for money and progress here can be maddeningly slow. But it is progress even so. So what has been achieved? First generation restorations like the Kennet and Avon Canal have been completed. Here the entire track remained in the same ownership and each obstacle was manageable with engineering solutions. Even the formidable Caen Hill flight of locks at Devizes is only one lock to restore - twenty nine times. Given that, and given money from Heritage Lottery Fund, the restoration was simple and straightforward when compared to later schemes. The second generation of restorations was more difficult. Schemes like the Forth & Clyde, Union, Rochdale and Huddersfield Narrow Canal had the benefit of essentially single ownership (apart from the Falkirk
In which Michael Handford looks back at the last 50 years of restoration and suggests where we might be going in the next 50... flight of locks which formerly linked the Union to the Forth & Clyde), but they also had the disadvantage of major obstacles. In the case of the Rochdale Canal this involved moving a supermarket, repositioning a motorway and removing nearly two miles of concrete infill. The Huddersfield Canal had Standedge Tunnel to repair and the Bates factory built on the line in Huddersfield. Nevertheless, given access to funding and engineering expertise, solutions were found and restorations completed. The Montgomery Canal is also in this category and restoration proceeds - slowly, but the important fact is that it does proceed. The Cotswold Canals have part of the track intact and part of it lost. Part is held in one ownership (The Company of Proprietors of the Stroudwater Navigation) and part (mostly the Thames & Severn Canal eastern side) is in multiple ownership. So the issues to be resolved include repurchasing and rebuilding lost sections of canal. Here again ÂŁ25 million sourced from Heritage Lottery Fund, Regional Development Agency and others is now restoring the canals from Stonehouse on the Stroudwater Canal to Brimscombe on the Thames & Severn. The next objective will be to restore the Stroudwater Navigation from Saul to Stonehouse, thereby linking the canals to the national network. The fourth generation of restorations is also with us. Examples include the Wey & Arun and Herefordshire & Gloucestershire Canals. Here there are issues of both tracks which are not intact, and multiple ownership. This is not entirely true for the Ledbury to Hereford length of the Herefordshire & Gloucestershire but the essential problems of reassembling land ownership remain. Despite these substantial issues restoration in both cases proceeds with impressive expertise and achievement. Big money has not arrived yet though the Wey & Arun Canal Trust in particular is skilled at raising eyewatering sums of money from volunteers and other sources.
What could happen as these schemes approach completion? 1 suspect the fifth generation of restorations will follow. This could include restoration and completion (for some were not completed) of the Kington, Leominster & Stourport; the Chard; the Dorset and Somerset; the Bude; and other canals. Here there are formidable obstacles virtually no intact track, and multiple ownership. Yet even here each obstacle could be solvable with expertise and money. The Bude Canal has a restoration trust and an active members society. The others, including the Salisbury & Southampton Canal and the Itchen Navigation, do not. Is there a sixth generation to come? I suspect there is. These are most likely to be new canals linking existing destination waterways that are connected with the national system at only one end. So we may see new canals linking the Oakham and Stamford; the Grantham and Sleaford; Cambridge to the Lee and Stort; the Broads and the eastern waterways; Gloucester & Berkeley Canal to Bristol; Cromford to Chesterfield and (via the Peak Forest Tramroad) to Whaley Bridge on the Peak Forest; Ashby to the Trent and Mersey and/ or to the Charnwood Forest; Keilder Water to Ripon; Newtown on the Montgomery to the Kington Leominster & Stourport; Herefordshire and Gloucestershire Canal at Hereford to Brecon on the Brecon and Abergavenny Canal; and others. Is this impractical? Go back I ask you and remember the
‘totally impractical’, ‘enormously difficult and expensive’, ‘pointless’ proposals to restore the Kennet & Avon Canal in the l950s. We have made the future in the form we wanted. The fact that there are first and second generations of schemes completed and third and fourth generations taking place speaks for itself. If you do not believe this is possible you need to explain why we can put men on the moon but not restore the fifth and build the sixth generation. Michael A Handford See Editorial page 4 for comment ...Ed
Restoration generations Never closed Restored (Gen 1 or 2) Current schemes (Gen 3 or 4) Might be restored? (Gen 5) XXXXXXXXXXXX Possible new links? (Gen 6)
. . . . . W R G I E S WEEK THREE AT INGLESHAM
Filled with innuendo, bottles and bricks this week finds Wrgies Nigel and Helena in charge of the Camp with Krzysiek and Sophie as cooks. Through the course of the week they deal with trials such as nonexistent brick deliveries, a collapsing assistant and the sheer size of the spillweir. However there are highs as well as lows, as RAF Martin lays the first brick of the Inglesham Lock rebuild and new girls Nadine and Becki invent the WRGie stomp!
The Week 3 Inglesham WRGies
Day 1: The one with no keys! As this week’s Wrgies arrive all seems to be going well; especially as Alan arrives with the breakfast meat. Lots of old faces (mostly from London WRG) and a few new (in the form of Colin, Nadine, Becki and young Tim) mean it looks like it will be a good camp. However it takes a while for the banter to begin as everyone sits in silence along the wall. Assistant leader Helena gives up on conversation and starts on the first jigsaw whilst Sophie prepares the first meal – jacket potatoes! Later as people begin to think of an excursion to ‘The George’ having experienced the delights of the WRG safety video it is realised that both sets of hall keys have vanished cross-country with members of the previous camp. Luckily the caretaker is a very patient woman and doles out a third set of keys to the Wrgies who promise that the other keys will be posted back. In ‘The George’ there is the traditional LWRG initiation of Mick into the group as he is rendered speechless by a Masters Dissertation topic and shares a very rude joke involving a tailor measuring the inside leg of a lady. It is discovered that Moonlight is only for those patient enough to wait whilst the barman wanders down into the cellar or organised enough to order their next pint well in advance. Back at base those who didn’t feel like sampling the wonders of Stowford Press, 2B, 3B or Moonlight have finished the first jigsaw: 100 pieces of black and white squiggles with no picture provided. Day 2: The one with the crusty cake! The intrepid volunteers start work on site. The numerous old hands mean the traditional Sunday morning faff is postponed and the tea station is set up in a matter of minutes. However once it’s time for the real work to begin the faff commences; luckily Nigel has a plan and even the most ardent faffers are put to work. Richard and RAF Martin start to clear the dirt from a root-ball whilst Tim and Chris P start to burn a pile of brush that is making the site look untidy. Down in the lock the solid brickwork uncovered by the previous week’s camp is cleaned up in preparation for the rebuild and the second culvert is dug out. Meanwhile work begins on exposing the culvert end of the spill weir and moving the spoil heap currently on top of the lower section of the spill weir – causing the Wrgies to wonder if it is actually possible to put a spoil Martin enjoys cake heap in the right place the first time.
At tea break the Wrgies discover the Godzilla cake. Unfortunately its extreme size meant that when RAF Martin pricked it the night before his implement came out sticky, so it has been cooked to the point of crustiness! This doesn’t deter the Wrgies who munch their way through great slabs of it. Later in the day Becki is introduced to Tirfor innuendo whilst Ed shows the girls up by pulling the Tirfor one handed (whilst on the phone) harder than them combined. In the evening food is consumed followed by either the pub or a 100 piece jigsaw of blue paint. As before the jigsaw is complete by the time the pub contingent get in, having eventually consumed the round of drinks Alan kindly supplied at last orders. Day 3: The one with the bottles! Back on site for their second day of work the Wrgies start to make an impression on the spill weir. They also uncover a veritable bottle mine as the old lockkeeper obviously used the spill weir as a garbage disposal point; this leads to jealousy from Nadine as all she is finding down in the lock is barbed wire. Meanwhile Sophie finds herself expelled from site in search of bricks from Eisey Lock. Luckily she and her band of brick movers don’t have to sort them as the eternal question of ‘When is a red brick red?’ has yet to be decisively answered. These bricks are to be used in the rebuild of the forebay walls and by lunch RAF Martin has officially started the Inglesham Lock rebuild by laying the first brick! This is followed by others laid by Nigel, Dave A, Mick, Chris P, Alan, Martin L and all the newbies at various points during the week. All this is aided by Pete’s sterling work manning the mixer and the brick saw whilst still helping dig out the spill weir. Day 4: The one where Tim didn’t see a tree! In the morning Ed plays the brick game with young Tim and Becki in the form of excavator training before putting his own skills to work in extending the parking area with brick rubble and soil on top of a geotextile layer. Meanwhile the diggers continue to dig with Chris C in charge of both item identification and rebuking Helena and David for breaking bottles in their hurry to expose the spill weir walls. Chris L is meanwhile occupied by barrowing the spoil to the bund (being constructed across the top of the lock to allow the excavator access to the off-side) but does not always remember to tell the diggers that the barrow is going. Down in the lock Nigel demolishes RAF Martin’s brickwork having decided it is too wonky and needs a wedge put in whilst Mick measures up the culvert with young Tim for a former so that when it’s demolished the Wrgies know how to put it back together again. After lunch, work begins on the former as Ed has bought plywood supplies and the digging continues. Becki loses her barrow Upon the groups return to the accommodation they find Krzysiek has arrived and is producing his first meal – Sweet and Sour Chicken with noodles/rice. He also discovers the vagaries of the oven (whose base is held up by a piece of concrete and whose sides bow out if anything too heavy is placed it in) and so dessert is delayed. As a cinema trip is planned the DoE’ers are left in charge of cookies whilst the leadership team (plus Ed) go in search of Conan the Barbarian. Day 5: The one with the boat! As a boat trip is planned the group only have a half-day on site. In the morning the digging of the spill weir finally nears completion though a Willow tree still prevents them finding the end section. As David believes it is only 30 years old the consensus amongst the Wrgies is that the end is under it. The rebuild also continues whilst Tim discovers you can save time
in preparing dessert by roasting apples whilst they are still attached to the tree, and Paul and Becki survey and record the extent of the excavated spill weir. At midday the team return to the accommodation for lunch and (for the more hygiene conscious) showers. The unclean punish the clean by eating all the best lunch items. After this everyone piles into the van for the epic drive to the boat trip. An hour later half the Wrgies pile out the van refreshed by a nap whilst the rest laugh at the pictures they took of their sleeping comrades. As there is not enough room in the boat for everyone, two trips are made whilst those waiting rue the absence of a pub in easy walking distance. After the trips fish and chips arrive as if by magic courtesy of Colin the local. Once these have been consumed entertainment is provided in the form of an excellent talk on the history of the Thames & Severn Canal complete with bats and fabric samples. Day 6: The one with the dead rabbits! Paul with the level staff On Thursday Helena (again) proves her inability to survive a whole week on site without collapsing. This has been delayed from the traditional Wednesday afternoon collapse but is nevertheless expected. Having ‘supervised’ the last of the spill weir excavation up to tea break she sleeps through the rest of the day; rising only to fathom out exclamations of ‘We’re going to fill it in again?’, ‘Poor rabbits!’ and ‘It’s the Wrgie stomp’. These exclamations result from the start of the next job – constructing a path across the top of the newly excavated spill weir for the excavator and dumper to cross on without damaging the brickwork. To the dismay of the diggers this involves laying a geotextile layer and covering it with soil (i.e. filling back in part of the hole they dug!). The spoil heap created when the coping stones were uncovered several months ago is identified as being in the least useful place so David sets to with the excavator to fill the barrows. As these are dumped on the geotextile layer, Becki and Nadine invent the Wrgie Stomp in order to press the dirt into a solid layer. Unfortunately as the digging continues it is discovered that a family of rabbits has been in residence in the spoil heap and so all work stops whilst Nigel, as leader, officiates over the burial. In the evening all jigsaw work is halted as the team visit the local skittle alley. The final scores indicate a general lack of skill and Becki is deemed the winner through a change of rules to make the lowest score the aim. Day 7: The one with the traffic accident! Blazing hot weather means the pace of work slows on the last day. However no-one is worried as the main jobs are done. Brickwork continues whilst Richard starts on a new hole. This one is much more restrained in scope than the spill weir in that it is only investigating whether the roots of a felled tree are damaging the bridge. As an experienced Wrgie he declines the pleasure of filling in his own hole and this job is delegated to Becki. Meanwhile Sophie and others are collecting more bricks from Eisey. After tea break a contingent is sent to Eisey lock with the culvert former; which is to be stored through the winter. Loading the van with this is found to be more difficult than expected as Pete finds himself briefly trapped. At Eisey, Helena and Mick are put in charge of painting the culvert former to help protect the efforts of Dave A, Mick and young Tim who has built it throughout the week, whilst Sophie and others load the van with yet more bricks. After they have loaded up and gone the painting supplies are found wanting as one brush is little more than a stump and the other disintegrates within minutes. Experimentation with available supplies proves that handfuls of grass spread both the paint and the grass evenly but that an old work glove is a much better substitute. Three coats of paint later the van reappears with some disgruntled Wrgies muttering that they have picked up the wrong
bricks. A thorough search of Eisey later no bricks are found so Sophie and Nadine settle for a bag full of scrumped Damsons instead. En route back to Inglesham, ice creams are bought for all by Mick. This detour leads to more excitement than expected as two cars collide outside the petrol station. Ever ready the Wrgies pile out of the van, cornettos in hand, and don their hi-viz jackets. Chris L and Dave A take up traffic duty, carefully directing the traffic through the petrol station, whilst Becki calls the emergency services and The completed culvert former Mick and Sophie take care of the drivers. Afterwards the team are thanked for their invaluable help by the staff at the garage and the local policemen. Eventually returning to site for lunch they discover that the others are having a much more sedate morning; continuing the rebuild, putting the fire out completely, expanding the rubble layer for the parking area, sorting glass for recycling and packing the intact bottles into boxes to be sold to raise money for the Inglesham Lock appeal. The afternoon continues at this sedate pace until it is time to head to the showers. Back at base Krzysiek is preparing for the last night barbecue and soon finds that the advice that he didn’t need to buy fire starters for the BBQ was erroneous. Hence by the time the Wrgies tuck into the outdoors feast it is pitch black and a table lamp on an extension cable is required to see what is in the bowls of salad. After the BBQ there is just time for one last visit to the George where Becki and Young Tim join the locals dancing whilst Dave A harries them for money for the canal restoration. The inebriated state of the group on their return to the accommodation is proven as Martin tries to enter through the wall. Day 8: The one where Becki’s mum couldn’t go to the loo! It’s the last day and as there will be no sequel for this exact group of Wrgies there is no cliffhanger to keep us in suspense (unless the unknown location of the last set of keys is enough to thrill). The morning is spent packing up and counting the kit. By 11 o’clock this is complete and the group start to disperse. Eventually the Wrgies gather outside the hall and two sets of keys are returned to the caretaker. This was soon discovered to be a bad plan as Becki’s mum arrives in need of the facilities. As departures continue a last enactment of the Wrgie Stomp saw Nadine and Colin off whilst Tim ponders where to go next. As the last to leave, Nigel takes the van back to its storage point and thanks his lucky stars for good weather, good cooks and a good group of volunteers that he hopes will all come back on WRG events in the future.
Nigel’s guide to a good camp: Find out why it’s important to know where the hall keys are on the first day (before you need them), the importance of teaspoons in the brew kit and making sure someone puts the flight case in the van. Related to the vans, find out why the scaff spanner should be in the first vehicle to get to site in the morning (so as to allow easy access), it’s important to ensure the drivers know where all the trees are on site and to have noticed that the drive is very narrow, and that you should never leave the non-driving assistant in charge of directions! Profile of a Lock Keeper: Find out what the Wrgies felt ample amounts of beer, Daddies sauce, Ginger ale, Sloan’s liniment and Eiffel Tower lemonade said about the Lock Keeper’s drinking habits and what ‘Lassie – food for dogs!’ said about his diet in general. Also find the Wrgies’ answers to questions such as ‘What would he have done with a meat cleaver and a miniature tea set?’ and ‘Why are there so many miniature horseshoes in this ash layer?’
Navvies news Gaynor Asquith
When you hear that a WRG friend of many years has been successfully treated for a serious eye condition you feel relief. You hear soon after of the reoccurrence of a different and more serious illness and feel some alarm. Only a few days later her sudden death makes you feel a little of the Gaynor (left) on the NW stand shock and disbelief which comes to those closest to someone who dies far too soon. Gaynor Asquith made valuable contributions to WRG Northwest over many years as a regular and good cook (what better for navvy morale?); as minder of catering kit and replenisher of ‘hard tack’ box (a greatly undervalued service for any group); together with husband Malcolm she staffed our sales stand at many events, looked after postal sales, attended paper chases, and - oh yes! - got muddy with everyone else. Unable to find small enough steel toecapped wellies from the usual suppliers (“no call for them madam”), she advertised her plight in Navvies. The solution came from the Milk Marketing Board a dainty pair of steelies - in white! A happy memory to set against our great sadness. Our thoughts are with you, Malcolm. from Northwesters everywhere.
ing and actually make bricks with it. They would welcome any help. If anyone is interested, contact Steve Barlow via e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or 07932310710.
Essex lads seek tarts to join them on dirty weekends
No, we’re not trying to poach (we don’t like it when it’s done to us) but if you can’t make the dates or venue of your regular group in a particular month but can ours, why not avoid withdrawal symptoms by joining us. Or, if you became a WRGie via a national week-long camp and have been thinking about trying one of our week ends, why not come along - you’ll find just as warm a welcome as you did there. After all we’re the same sort of people you met on camp. Of course we realise that you may not always have known of our programme, so we hope that better publicity and improved communication will allow you to plan ahead. You are very welcome to come onto our mailing list (via email@example.com) you’ll receive our excellent monthly Newsletter and other updates by email - snail mail contact still available however if required. These are the first stages of our plans to bring Essex into the Twenty-first century why not join us on the odd week-end (although we prefer the term ‘mad’) and you can influence how we progress. Our programme for 2012 is in place with over half of our dates and venues already confirmed and plans for the others well advanced. Details will be available through the normal channels - wrg website, Navvies, Calendar, etc. but we’ll be on our home patch in January at Heybridge and returning to the Wendover Arm in February. Other venues planned for 2012 include such diverse locations as Inglesham, North Walsham & Dilham and Lichfield & Hatherton. We’re even looking at some potential new Help restore The Fenny Brick Kiln avenues (New? Essex? Pull the other one!) Our digs usually take place on the first Why clean bricks when you can clean a full week end of the month, so you can put whole brick kiln? At Fenny Compton, by the them in your new 2012 diary straight away. Oxford Canal, is a historic kiln which proWe look forward to seeing you. duced bricks for maintaining the canal, and is Frank Wallder being restored by the Guild of Bricklayers. They have cleared trees and vegetation And finally... from the kiln. They expect to cover what they have exposed to protect it over the Best wishes for Christmas and New Year from winter months and then resume work in the the editor to all our readers. Thanks for all spring. Eventually they want to get it workyour support and help with Navvies in 2011.
WRG BC News
WRG Boat Club
I have had a number of enquiries as to what exactly WRG BC is so below is a short version of the club rules/constitution. Please note that the club’s unofficial motto is ‘Incompetence at It’s Best’! If you are interested in joining us please contact me (details below) for an application form. By the time you receive this New Year will be nearly upon us so PLEASE put your mind to suggestions for the location for the AGM (which we normally hold at the IWA National Festival, but can’t as there isn’t one in 2012). So far these have included: BCN Cleanup Walsall in April - Excellent but too early. Droitwich in June, but they are still arguing about the date and I don’t think there will be restoration work available Montgomery in September Wendover Arm Trust festival Jubilee Weekend - held at Hemel Hempstead but usually work being done on the arm. Other locations to consider are - Derby and Sandiacre - Cheshire Locks - Uttoxeter Daventry - Litchfield and Hatherton - Inglesham. Please let me know of anything suitable taking place at these locations. Any other suggestions most welcome. I hope the weather is being kind to boaters and look forward to some good plans for 2012 xxx Sadie Heritage home: 01733 204505; mobile: 07748 186867; email: firstname.lastname@example.org
WRG BC? What’s that?
. . . . .
Waterway Recovery Group Boat Club General information: Waterway Recovery Group Boat Club was started in1998. The name of the organisation is Waterway Recovery Group Boat Club, known as ‘WRG BC’. The Burgee is a red triangle with WRG BC lettering and a bridge logo with upright tools resting on one side. WRG BC is affiliated to The Association of Waterways Cruising Clubs (AWCC) Club Objectives: (1) To provide fellowship, support and a forum for members who own boats or otherwise cruise the waterways. (2) To accept and support the rules and objectives of the Association of Waterways Cruising Clubs. Membership: Membership is open to active volunteers with Waterway Recovery Group and those who have previously been involved with working with the group. This does not include those who just subscribe to Navvies. New members must pay a joining fee of £10, plus one year’s subscription. Subscriptions: All subscriptions are due annually on 1st September. The annual membership rate is to be agreed at the AGM. Those who fail to pay by 31st October shall be considered to have terminated their membership. Membership cards are issued annually. Meetings: The AGM will be held at The IWA National Waterways Festival or alternative boat gathering if agreed. Informal club gatherings or attendance at boat festivals (especially those associated the reopening of formerly Derelict waterways) are encouraged. Boating: All members are urged to cruise reopened waterways, little used waterways and those threatened with closure. Reporting back to the membership is appreciated. Communications: All club news will be published in NAVVIES Funds: The Treasurer shall keep the funds in a bank account and submit accounts at the AGM or year end. Monies accrued, after payment of AWCC subscriptions and administration costs, may be donated to Waterway Recovery Group projects or other canal restoration schemes. This is to be agreed at the AGM. Any Monies remaining at the dissolution of WRG BC will be donated to WRG.
to Samantha Hemmings-Smith & David Daniels on their engagement, to Mike Chase & Liz Wilder on their engagament, and to Debbie Curtis and Sarah Duncan on their marriage
Moving house Kirsty Wallace has moved to: 36 Moor End Road, Mellor, Stockport, Cheshire, SK6 5PS If you move, remember to tell Navvies
Thanks to Chris Griffiths of Stroudprint for continued assistance with Navvies printing
Directory update: Essex WRG contact is now Frank Wallder 01992 636164 email@example.com
CANALWAY CAVALCADE Little Venice, London W2 5th²7th May 2012 Applications are invited for the following vacancies on the organising committee: Entertainments Manager & Assistant Role & Responsibilities: Source entertainers, schedule performances and provide logistics support during the event
Mont Campers! In appreciation of the work WRG has done on the Montgomery this year, all volunteers who worked on camps or weekend digs there are invited by the local canal societies to their annual dinner on 21 Jan at the Lion Quays in Oswestry. Cost £23 per person. Contact Peter or Judy Richards 01691 831455 or email peter_richards@ btinternet.com
Public Address Manager Role & Responsibilities: Make public information announcements during the event, co-ordinate a team of announcers and create a rota in preparation for the event
Waterspace Manager & Assistant Role & Responsibilities: Book in boats attending the event, organise moorings, co-ordinate two pageants. Support and learn alongside the current manager to assume the role in 2013 All roles are committee posts and require attendance at monthly meetings at a venue near Kings Cross, London. Applications for full job specifications should be made to: Jerry Sanders 3 Wharf House Barton under Needwood Staffs DE13 8DZ Telephone: 07788 204442 Mobile: 07970835523 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Digger and boat ...free from Avon Trust to a good home. Work Boat: 25’ x 9’, draft 2’. 50 years old oak boat with lister SR2. Requires recaulk and some planks replacing. Engine runs but could do with overhaul. Mini Digger: Approx 30 years old. Hydraulics very tired, old lever controls, works but needs full hydraulic and engine overhaul. Email CliveMatthews@ avonnavigationtrust.org
Dear Deirdre My local group regularly stays at a hall with a very noisy heater. When faced with the choice between being kept awake by the cold and kept awake by a shrieking fan, which is best? - LK, Much Wenlock Deirdre writes: Switch the fan off. Don’t, for the love of god, admit to feeling the cold or you’ll never gain any respect in WRG. Complaining it’s a bit nippy in the accomm is tantamount to drinking low alcohol lager and suggesting a light continental breakfast rather than a fry up. You’ll just have to man up and sleep in your thermals
was one canal camp away from completion. Is there anything I can do? - Concerned of London Deirdre writes: Your weak-willed friend is clearly being lured away from WRG by the temptations of disgustingly clean women who don’t smell of woodsmoke and damp scout huts. It’s a common problem amongst single WRGies but fortunately it’s always short-lived (for warnings about relationships Dear Deirdre I’m really worried with Outsiders, please refer to my previous about my mate Tim. He used to be the columns on the misery which accompanies most regular volunteer on our work relationships with non-WRGies). Rest assured parties, never missing one even for that your friend Tim will soon be wiping the something really important like a fam- tears from his eyes and climbing back in the ily funeral or a beer festival, but just van seat. In the unlikely event that this nonrecently he’s taken to walking up sense persists, try and get him to bring some Welsh mountains with a different girl of the women onto a WRG weekend. If they every weekend. Now he’s missed three have the stamina to climb the Brecon Beacons of the last four digs - which hasn’t they’ll have no trouble barrowing muck for happened since Margaret Thatcher was eight hours in the rain, and they might even Prime Minister and the Droitwich Canal bring Kendal Mint Cake for everyone to share.
And speaking of vans... Scenes you seldom see on a dig: No 11
It’s all going very well on the Inglesham camp - we’ve just managed to fit the arch former in the back of the van. Just one thing - has anyone seen where Pete got to? Ah...
“...and it was the first thing I found, as soon as I opened the van door” Do you have a question for Deirdre? Just email email@example.com
Magazine for volunteers restoring the waterways - Navvies 250.