volunteers restoring waterways
navvies waterway recovery group
Issue No 253 252 June-July 2012
Navvies Production Editor: Martin Ludgate, 35 Silvester Road, East Dulwich London SE22 9PB 020-8693 3266 firstname.lastname@example.org Subscriptions: Sue Watts, 15 Eleanor Rd., Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Manchester M21 9FZ Printing and assembly: John & Tess Hawkins, 4 Links Way, Croxley Green, Rickmansworth, Herts WD3 3RQ 01923 448559 email@example.com 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. 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 2012 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
In this issue...
Above: What’s camp leader George up to? See the Chesterfield camp report, p44-48. Left: Work site for this winter. Bridge 70 on the Uttoxeter Canal near Crumpwood, on the length that will be hosting the London WRG and KESCRG Christmas Party Dig and also the WRG New Year Camp. Front Cover: BCN Cleanup - see p42-43. (Photo: Martin Ludgate) Back cover: Two camps and a weekend completed the job of extending the Hereford & Gloucester Canal’s Over Basin length with a new section of canal see p6-15. (Photos Martin Ludgate / ‘Digger’ Morris I think)
Camps preview latest news on this summer’s canal camps 4-5 Camp reports Two weeks at Over... 6-13 Dig report ...followed by a KESCRG weekend dig at Over 14-15 40 interviews Rick Barnes and Bob Keaveney face the questions 16-25 Diary canal camps and weekend digs 26-27 Letters do you know how to build a lock? 28 Progress a roundup of news from restoration projects around the country 30-36 WRGBC news from our own boat club 37 Wey & Arun update on volunteer projects on a populer scheme in the south 38-40 Tech Tips more on big dumpers 41 Cleanup report from the BCN 42-43 Camp report Chesterfield Canal 44-48 Navvies News looking forward to Xmas 49 Noticeboard 50 Infill WRG and the Diamond Jubilee 51
Contributions... ...are always welcome, whether handwritten, typed, on CD, DVD or by email. Photos welcome: digital, slides, prints. Please say if you want prints back. Digital pics are welcome as email attachments, preferably JPG, but if you have a lot of large files it’s best to send them on CD or DVD or to contact the editor first. Contributions by post to the editor Martin Ludgate, 35, Silvester Road, London SE22 9PB, or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Press date for issue 254: July 1st.
Subscriptions A year's subscription (6 issues) is available for a minimum of £3.00 to Sue Watts, 15 Eleanor Road, Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Manchester M21 9FZ. Cheques payable to "Waterway Recovery Group" please. This is a minimum subscription, that everyone can afford. Please add a donation.
all the latest news of WRG's activities page 3
The latest on our 2012 summer Canal Camps, the leaders appointed since the last issue, the leader who hasn’t been appointed, and some comments from leaders and would-be leaders...
...and camp leaders...
Camps Preview Last time we promised to bring you a final part of our 2012 Canal Camps Preview we gave you details of the work planned for our major work site at Inglesham Lock on the Cotswold Canals. Unfortunately as we went to press we were still waiting for some of the details to be sorted out, so I’m afraid you’ll have to keep looking on our website or just book a camp and take pot luck - because, let’s face it, they’re all going to be cracking camps, aren’t they? But even if we can’t fill you in on the work at least we can tell you who’s in charge: Ed Walker and Alyssa Campion lead Camp 2012-18 on 11-18 August; they hand the baton over to ‘RAF Martin’ Thompson and ‘Teacher Chris’ Blaxland for Camp 2012-21 on 18-25 August; finally Nigel Lee and Helena Howarth (who by then will be Helena Rosiecka) will take over for Camp 2012 which runs from 25 August to 1 September. Let’s hope they’ve found out what the work is by then... Anyway in the meantime we’ll bring you up to date with the latest information about leaders for the camps that we already covered in the last two issues. Camp 2012-11 on the Lancaster Canal Northern Reaches on 28 July - 4 August will be led by Paul Shaw, ably assisted by Peter Lister with Peter Foord in charge of the kitchen. Meanwhile on the same week Bob Crow will be leading Camp 2012-12 the first of two weeks on the Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation, before handing over to Sarah Ashman and her yet-to-be-confirmed co-leader for Camp 2012-15 the following week. We also have leaders now for the Montgomery Canal Camp 2012-22 on 18-25 August: none other than our Chairman Mike Palmer, aided and abetted by Harry Watts. And for the final Mont camp, 2012-25 on 25 August - 1 September, they hand over to Jonathan Smith and Becky Parr. If you’ve been paying close attention to these Camp Previews and either have an exceptionally good memory or have been scribbling notes all over you camps brochure, you’ll realise that still leaves a small gap. So it’s over to Mark ‘MK2’ Richardson for an update on leader recruitment...
Leaders Hello everyWRGie, it’s Mk2 again with a quick update on Canal Camp Leaders for 2012. Tight for time? Then just read the bold bits. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: THANK YOU to all who have volunteered to run or assist on Camps next year. Hopefully, by the time you’ve read this some kind of email confirmation will have reached you! And my I take the opportunity to say how nice it was to see so many of you at the Leaders’ Training Weekend. Now then, what do we still need? Well, we’re only one leader short at time of writing. The Canal Camp in question is the first week on the Cromford (4-11 August) where the leader for the second week is already lined-up as the assistant for the first (follow me?). If you think it might suit you and you have led (or at least “assistanted”) before, please contact us; details are below. Also, it’s a call for cooks! Preferably experienced WRGie cooks! At time of writing, we have six vacancies although individual leaders may well be hunting around and sorting it themselves. Perhaps there’s a leader you’d like to cook for, or a part of the world you like the most? Email us and ask us for a list of available Camps; details are below. If you’d 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
The Leaders’ Training Day As we mentioned in the last few issues of Navvies, we held another Leaders’ Training Day in May. Rather than bring you a full report of the proceedings, we thought we’d simply reproduce some of the feedback we’ve received from the people who attended what was clearly a very successful and useful event. “Great discussion, liberally seasoned with humorous anecdotes, with a side order of practical top tips to take to the summer camps” “The leaders & cooks training day proved to be an excellent feat of organisation, getting some 57 people into the same room and keeping them enthralled for the day was incredible. The content was lead by ‘Bush Baby’ eagerly supported by all comers and the open forum format brought out unrestricted comments for all attendees. It was my first event of this sort, started with bacon butties and lots of tea, meeting of like minds on a topic we all love. I got a lot out of it, not least that I should read the Navvies magazine more thoroughly, which I have reread since. The event makes me want to become more involved. Thank you everyone.” “Everyone had something to say, lots of subjects were discussed and different points of view were looked at. And all was in nice friendly atmosphere. If we all work in dirt all day at camps, let’s make sure that at the end of that day we have tasty, clean meal which gives us extra kick... not a kick in the stomach :-) Looking forward to another meeting.” “I thought the day went very well... as a relatively new camp leader, I found the things covered & were both useful and pertinent. There were a number of things covered that have made me re-evaluate the way I work and will be taking these things forward for future camps.” ”Best tip of the day: Do your food shopping with M&S bags.. the volunteers will think you have spent a fortune on their food whilst actually appreciating the fine quality of Aldi .... I really enjoyed the leaders training day and was very impressed by the professional way it was run. I was inspired to get back to restoring my canal! I was pleasantly surprised to find so many friendly, fun and approachable people. The kind of people I could equally enjoy sinking a pint with or digging a canal.”
“Useful, informative and fun - valuable points that’ll be helpful for new and experienced leaders, assistants and MUPs” We’ll be holding another Leader Training Day in 2013 - details to follow in Navvies.
“I wouldn’t like to suggest that WRG cooks are a odd bunch but we were crying tears of laughter when discussing the possibly dry subject of temperature control in our fridges and freezers. The use of intelligent chickens might have had something to do with it.”
The Lancaster Canal comes to an abrupt end. Help us to extend it on the Lancaster Canal Camps this summer
Week one: the ‘technical’ camp. Or as Bungle puts it, The I-spy Book of Construction Plant
Herefordshire & Gloucestershire Canal The H&G ‘technical’ camp It’s a funny thing. A camp that was barely advertised yet filled within a couple of weeks of bookings opening and mostly with “old hands”. How could this be? How could a camp on the Hereford and Gloucester fill so quickly? Ah, toys plant. That would be it. Here is the list:
. . . . . . . . . . . .
22.5 tonne Hitachi excavator 21 tonne New Holland excavator 13 tonne ride-on sheep’s foot roller (stretching category 16b to the limit) 6 tonne Hyundai excavator 2 x 9 tonne dumpers 6 tonne swivel tip dumper 6 tonne straight tip dumper Wacker plate Land Rover Defender 130 ‘Pasty wagon’ (or ‘Bungle’s toolbox’) 8 tonne JCB excavator 5 tonne CAT excavator Remote controlled walk-behind vibrating roller
Pretty much the full range covered by the I Spy book of Construction Plant.
Saturday Quote Of The Day: “We shall make clay while the sun shines” (Martin Thompson) Bungle of the Day: Sleepy Dave dumper parking Dinner: Beef in Beer with dumplings Arrived on site, surveyed the plant. Discovered that the 8t machine requested was 2t short and missing the grading bucket. Much murmuring and mentioning of “remember last time” and talking of the lowest denomination of British currency in a disparaging manner. Digger chose his office for the week (the 22.5 tonner, as if you had to ask). The rest of the camp selected their tools and digging commenced.
Shortly after this Sleepy Dave parked his dumper nose first in a barely visible trial pit. Using the International Alan Lines Definition of stuckness, it was decreed stuck as it needed assistance to extract it. Unfortunately it would then only drive backwards, not forwards. Bungle stepped in with the 300tdi powered toolbox (The Pasty Waggon) and after some diagnosis identified a broken gearbox solenoid. A bit of work with a dremel and soldering iron had it back on the road. At the end of the day the kit was fuelled up, after a short delay while it was identified that there were TWO shut off valves on the bulk tank, one of which had no handle and required the user to be a contortionist with a pair of pliers. Mark II got very excited about the microwave in the accommodation which had modes for both ‘chaos’ and ‘turbo’. We drank beer and fell asleep (some of us still dressed).
Sunday QOTD: “Do you want stuffing dear?” (Mandy Morley) Bungle of the day: Bungle slightly losing a track Dinner: Orange, Honey and ginger belly pork slices 7.30 am on site, Martin Thompson cooked breakfast in the hut while work commenced. Martin Ludgate trained a number of people on the roller (so big it has a ladder to get in it). Bungle took the 6t excavator up a slope to dig a french drain, described as “sphincter-tighteningly steep”. The drawing for the drain showed a layer of pea gravel around the pipe covered with 40mm stone at the top. We had been supplied with one pile of 20mm stone for both purposes. There was a delay in loading the dumpers with the incorrect stone while the locals summoned up courage to drive their own machine. More comments were made in relation to small copper coinage. The site marking out team followed the plan to the metre, including
marking a white line across a puddle. At the end of the day Bungle turned the 6t excavator round and one of the tracks dropped off. A small but perfectly formed team of Alan Lines, Martin Thompson, Digger and Bungle stayed on site and after much persuasion got it back on, returning home in time for dessert (followed by main course).
Monday QOTD1: “I’m pregnant again” (Mandy) QOTD2: “That’s a girl I went to college with and if you are really good this is what you get to trim” (anon) QOTD3: How can you calibrate your card if you don’t know whether it includes the cock?” (Bungle) Bungle of the day: Moose lubricating the bed of the canal Dinner: Curry
I assumed it was an ornament, I didn’t realise it could actually move” to one of the locals on seeing them using their own excavator was considered unhelpful. Steve parked the roller in a very secure manner and spent some time un-parking it (again the International Alan Lines Definition of stuckness determined that as he got it out without assistance it was not ‘stuck’). The team were most impressed that Digger would get out of the cab to dig the clay out of his own bucket, unlike some other excavator drivers who were christened ‘Velcro trousers’ due to the fact they seemed unable to leave the seat. The aim was to leave site by 5.30, the last vehicle off site left at 7pm after finishing the fuelling up. After dinner Mandy got out her Anglican cathedral Top Trumps, Bungle was puzzled as to whether the height information included the weather vane (see QOTD).
Another 7.30 start on site with chief breakTuesday fast maker Thompson once again driving the griddle. QOTD1: “I don’t do birds” (Mandy) While getting all the plant into position, QOTD2: “There are now two brown streaks the dumper that Moose was on sprang a on this hill, one in the grass and one in my hydraulic oil leak. Bungle identified a blown underwear” (Bungle) seal on the hydraulic oil filter and then disBungle of the day: Mark II for locking the covered that the thread on the filter was cook in the accommodation, twice. stripped. Moose therefore earned the dubiBungle of the day runner up: Moose for ous distinction of being the first person on getting the roller properly stuck site to break a machine so badly we had to Dinner: Sausage casserole call out a fitter. Following an on site discussion, a revision to the plant requirements Although everyone was on site bright and was communicated to the local. Unfortuearly, it was a slow start while work was nately the only small sheep’s foot roller in the county was in Cheltenham, but the parts required to fix it were not expected to arrive until after Easter. Instead a ‘Paddy’s Pogo Stick’ was sent for, however it was soon realised that a 6" square wacker plate was never going to cut the mustard and no-one had anything bigger. There was a local uprising but it was soon put down when Dave Penny made some accurate, useful and correct statements, the first time anyone can remember this happening since February 1999. BunThe French drain under construction gle’s comment of “F*** me,
organised. Moose was rolling the towpath when he took a diversion down the far side and got it thoroughly and completely stuck. Chains and an excavator were required to extract it, therefore firmly placing it in the ‘stuck’ category. Just before lunch one of the dumpers was swapped for an excavator and just after lunch Hewdens sent us yet another one. This took us to 6 excavators on site and completely cleared the yard of all surrounding hire firms. Bungle spent over an hour on the phone in the morning trying to find a small sheep’s foot roller to replace the Wacker plate, eventually locating one from a large hire firm in Bristol, then chased an account application through during the day and by 4.30pm everything was in place; at this point they announced that their roller was broken so we couldn’t have it anyway, thus they won the less-than-coveted Bungles “Cunch of Bunts” award. While testing a dumper that had been reported to have transmission problems, Bungle asked Digger to give it a good load, Digger got rather over enthusiastic leading it to come to a halt until Digger took some weight back off it. There was concern that one of the excavator drivers was going to suffer from DVT due to being stuck the digger seat all day (Deep Velcro Thrombosis). Bungle took the excavator back up the slope to dig the next French drain, on the wet grass it was a little slippy (see the QOTD), Mark II remarked that following this
and the rain there were three types of backside on site: Velcro, squeaky and wet. Due to the increasingly slippery conditions, the site cleared back to the accommodation fairly quickly when end of play was declared, which unfortunately coincided with a later than normal dinner….
Wednesday QOTD: “John put his head between my legs” (James) Bungle of the Day: JCB not knowing how their own kit works and asking us Dinner: Lasagne Wednesday was christened ‘Wet Wednesday’; it was both wet and very cold. The drivers of the higher specification excavators were busy reading manuals to turn the aircon off and the heating on. The on site breakfast from ‘Thompsons Café’ was upgraded and now included Black Pudding on the menu. The roller was struggling to make headway in the wet clay, there was a control which seemed to do something about traction but it was unclear what. Bungle decided to ask JCB… JCB: Hello, JCB information line, how can I help? Bungle: Hello, I have a Vibromax VM132 roller and there is a control on the dashboard which we cannot understand, can you help? JCB: Hmm, what postcode are you in? Bungle: Err, not sure really, it is a field. Why, will it do different things depending on which county I am driving it in? JCB: No, we don’t have manuals on the information line, you need to talk to the local dealer. Bungle, puzzled as to what information the information line could actually supply, then rings the local dealer in Bristol, reception puts him through to ‘John – our experienced man’. JCB John: Hmm, not familiar with those, I’ll get the manual and ring you back ...ten minutes later…
JCB John: I can’t find a manual, and the chap in the factory who builds the rollers is Digger gets a bit enthusiastic loading the dumper away this week. I’ve looked at the wiring
diagram and it is something to do with the drive but beyond that I have no idea, if you work it out can you let me know?
having managed to fix theirs at lunchtime but they had no transport. After a bit of weighing and measuring it was confirmed that it would fit in the kit trailer so Bungle The rest of the day was more of the same, and Mark II went to Cheltenham to collect it. dredging the canal, putting in another French Martin then spent the afternoon with drain, changing the level of the slipway piling the roller, it was remote controlled and very that had been carefully put to the wrong effective on the narrow towpath, following level the day before, and watching Martin Martin around like a large, noisy, yellow dog. Thompson performing acrobatics that would Bob got the roller stuck, but as this had put the JCB dancing diggers to shame with already been done before it was considered the 5t excavator (he claims it was all under that copying did not earn the right to the control but there was observed to be a lump “Bungle of the day” award. missing from the seat afterwards). Much to Steve’s surprise, Mandy had left In the afternoon Bungle phoned the him a birthday cake in the accommodation hire company in Bristol to check the status of which was enjoyed by all. the small sheep’s foot roller, they promised The camp continued into Friday, and so to ring back and didn’t. At the end of the day you would have expected another day’s we were all set to go to the local leisure worth of camp report, but this is Over Basin, centre for decent showers (Ann described the so you never quite get as much of anything showers at the accommodation as being less as you asked for….. effective than a urinating spaniel). Martin There were of course a number of went to drive the van and found that a cerjokes made in connection with the words tain driver had set off leaving three people “Over”, “Penny” and “Severn Bore”, please behind, only by the grace of JCB did Sleepy refer to copies of Navvies from 1999 and Dave not get the Bungle of the day award. 2000 for details. As the song says: “We hear the old jokes that we’ve all heard before; and the younger ones all laugh and say ‘tell us Thursday some more’...” Big thanks to Ed Walker and Martin QOTD: “If only Sarah hadn’t put one in the Thompson for leading, Mandy Morley for oven….” (John the Hawk) cooking, Hereford and Gloucester for providQOTD: “Why do they call themselves One ing nearly all the plant we asked for and Call Hire? I’d have them under the Trades everyone else for digging in and keeping Descriptions Act for that…” (Bungle) going all day to get the job done. Bungle of the day: Relying on One Call Hire to hire something with one call. The End. Dinner: Chicken George ‘Bungle’ Eycott After a slight issue with a critical part of breakfast being left at the accommodation (breakfast being taken on site every day) all was well when Martin returned and picked up the bread. A small sub team set off to look at a potential bonfire bash site, returning and deeming it promising. Bungle set to chasing down the small sheeps foot roller, after some discussion One Call Hire admitted that the best they could do was to supply it Wednesday the following week, As Mark Twain might have said, “some of Bungle’s words were not Sunday School words”. After many phone calls Hewdens came to the rescue
Moose gets the big roller stuck
Week two: the ‘official’ camp. Will they get 280m of new canal finished by the end of the week/
Herefordshire & Gloucestershire Canal
the intensity of activity on the site as a lot of Camp 201202: Easter at Over They clay’ m, they dug, they conquered the first week operators stayed on for a few
extra days or another week in Adrian’s case! Leaving the “special ones’ on-site we departed for the nearby accommodation and the arrival of the rest of the intrepid 2nd week volunteers. The copious notes from 1st week cook Mandy were deciphered by the camp management, Tasterella & Iain’s camper van was plugged into the social room’s power supply, and normal hot beverages abounded as folks settled in albeit a bit snug with the “stop-overs” bed areas already ensconced in the main hall (who would be the lucky individual to be next to the loudest snorer of the previous week (name withheld because he is bigger than me!) The traditional welcome process was followed by a visit to site to shock and awe the newbies with the scale of the task in hand, back to the hall for the H&S chat, DVD and dinner of spaghetti bolognaise followed by bread & butter pudding minus the custard (taken from the assistant’s notes!) Easter Saturday; being a more conventional breakfast it was cooked and consumed at the accommodation rather than on-site as the previous week had been, “Greasy Thomo’s Breakfast Cabin” was no more. On site, on time, the prime objective was to keep the plant side and people apart, so a team of Taster, Iain, Peter, Greg, Harry, Sian,
All pictures by David Miller
The final radio message was “Over and out of here”: after two weeks of everything that the weather, the site conditions and man could throw at us, the end result was a 280m ish length of reconstructed canal starting to be filled with water. With the sun finally coming out for the day on the KESCRG Sunday there was a warm glow of satisfaction as we took our last look at the raw vision of loveliness that had been created from the accumulated honest endeavors of over 40 volunteers in the two week period. Handshakes and “well done’s” all round for the few of us left, we turned and departed. It was only after several nights of meaningful sleep and the receipt of more site photos from our H&G project partners on the Vineyard Hill/Over Basin project that the true scale of what we had achieved became clear. It further intensified the sense of pride in what had been created as a result of the hard graft, un-quenching spirit and the dedication of the volunteers. My thanks go to you all. So the concept was for an “experienced technical operator” camp to blitz a big chunk of the earthmoving element before the advertised Easter Camp arrived, and make life a little easier for the advertised camp. I did say concept! The driest March in living memory, drought notices, hose pipe bans, it had to change and it did! Snow, sleet, hail, frost, fog, rain, and sunshine almost at some point in every day it seemed, with only the hurricane missing. The Easter camp volunteers found a site that was hustling and bustling with the “specials” giving it their best shot under testing site conditions. Harry was the first to arrive dropped off on site on his way back from a boating holiday, Emma was picked up from the station, and both had a preview of
Operating the remote-control roller
Sam, Lynda and Emma was set up in the Over basin gardens to prepare the rather rusty reinforcing mesh ready for putting in the foundation of the spill weir (just a little additional construction to the works program). “Mr. Useful” Alan was our constant companion taking photos and offering kind words of wisdom during the holiday period and liked it so much he came from work to stay with us for the rest of the week at the hall. Those not gainfully employed wire brushing marched up the hill to where a French drain had been dug. But a steep slope and damp grass meant it had to be finished by hand including bucketing, via a human chain, of a 6 tonne dumper load of gravel up the hill “Jack & Jill went up the hill carrying a pail of gravel” doesn’t quite trip off the tongue but no “crowns” were broken in the making of this drain! Resisting the temptation to develop “waiting for the Bore”, the group took time (a lot of time) out to go watching the R.Severn’s natural tidal surge phenomenon. Meanwhile the new operators Martyn, Paul, Barry and Phil competed for seats with the stop over crew on the various items of kit work continued at a pace to dig, shift and compact clay Sian had a go operating the remote control roller and Peter transitioned into being the chief site surveyor dashing around with spray can and leveling staff, with the beeps of the laser level receiver occasionally heard over the roar of the diesel engines. A busted pump meant showers were taken at a Sports Centre in Gloucester so my lovely assistant Sarah whisked the 1st vanload of stoneground volunteers off for showers and relaxation with Alan’s stone-shifting video. Fish & chips and rice pudding were consumed (somewhat later by the plant ops team) and the first van went off to get some practice in at the skittle alley. Sian, battling flu-like symptoms, peaked early and won the warm up event, girlz’ winning optimism high. Competition Girlz v Boyz was joined with the arrival of the 2nd van with a blokie bias. The result; team and cut throat never in doubt, and not being a team (and solo star Bob) to brag, the girlz were an honorable second! The boyz graciously didn’t bring the subject up for the rest of the week, honest! Everyone learnt how to swing low c/o Harry and the dance move. Day 3: Happy Easter, cream eggs supplemented breakfast, Swing Low chorus rang
out around the accommodation. The flu bug got the better of Sian and we bade farewell to her. The spill weir became the centre of attraction for the local volunteers and our non-operator team. Setting out the levels and the stop plank channels was the order of the day, the mixer was fired up and concrete mixed to secure the channels in position. Meanwhile down on the muck shift site, it was time to start finalising the finished levels on the towpath side. Diligently clay was placed and compacted with the remote control roller, Sam, Iain and Lynda were trained on operating the roller and a really nice job was done only to have the plane off some of the hard work as we found the datum height was a tad out and we needed the clay in the next section! Phil C, the master of forming the Wendover batters, was engaged in tackling the new bank slope formation. At this point Digger was supposed to leave to spend a day at home preparing for starting his new job, the tantalising effect of a roast chicken dinner not only kept him on-site for the day but the promise of another equally superb catering extravaganza meant we had our top machine man for the following day also! All late leaving site (some later than others!), back at the hall beds were put back into place after being informed that the hall had to be cleared due to a class wanting to use it, only to discover it was the Easter Hols and had been cancelled!! The early van team waited and waited and waited – 2 hrs, 15mins and 30 seconds (despite phone calls) later the plant team returned to be greeted by a gorgeous roast chicken dinner!! Board games and the like with a little wine and beerlike beverages relaxed what was left of the evening away. Day 4: Easter Monday, typical holiday weather, rain, leisurely breakfast followed by a less than optimistic trip to site. Wet and cold, Sam learnt to operate the remote control roller which amusingly at times was collecting more clay on the rollers than compacting. The folks not in the comfort of a cab tiptoed around the site, then the executive decision was made for a terminated day for the non-plant folks, who went off, had lunch at the hall and showered on their way into Gloucester to seek out the Waterway Museum and other fine establishments of culture & intellect. From the assistant Sarah’s notes it would seem that while the ever studious Sarah was studying for her
paramedic exam in the comforts of the WRG van, the rest ended up in pub! For the plant operators there was no such luxury: where it was sensible to dig, place and compact material, work continued, at times boots clay-glued themselves to the ground, water trickled down necks, an alternative holiday in some warm foreign country didn’t seem a bad idea... but we’re navvies, we can take it! A damp and bedraggled plant team made it back for master chef No.2, Jamie, to serve up “Cowboy bean bake”, the bean content later reflected in the high winds in the local area. Although “Top Trumps” was in evidence it wasn’t the card game that had a lot of the group enthusiastically participating after dinner. Lynda & Paul’s general knowledge game stirred quite an interest and some amusing banter, the egghead winners being Taster and Iain. Day 5: All up to a weird shining thing in the sky – SUNSHINE!! – looks like our “high winds” blew away the storm. Off to site early as concrete due for the spill weir. “Site mix” lorry driver a bit nervous about his load crossing the Bailey Bridge, temperamental dump start and finally concrete arrived in the dumper carefully driven by SX down the tow path, slowly does it, all hands to the rakes and shovels as the fluid concrete was tipped out. Second dumper load was delivered and again the liquid mass was ejected and set upon by the eager shifters.
Work starts on the overflow weir site
Harry on his way back to the pour site engaged in conversation with mixer driver who now considered he’d been mixing the wrong amount of cement in the mix. “You can’t be serious” was the cry from the spill weir. “Oh and by the way excessive waiting time is going to be charged if you don’t hurry up” was the other joyful news. Much energetic activity, more shifting of the concrete ready to receive the “proper mix”. An extra 9 tonne dumper and an excavator later our lovely on-site mixer driver and lorry safely departed over the Bailey bridge without collapsing into the lock, leaving the concrete team to sort out the hydrating fluid concrete slab area. The standard run of poker vibrator jokes abounded as the concrete was compacted. Iain stayed behind to assist in the levelling and tamping of the finished surface. Much squash and tea was drunk by the concrete gang after their exertions in the sun. As we finished tamping the concrete the black clouds rolled in and the temperature dropped, and I tried to recall how many ladders I’d walked under recently! The heavens opened as hailstones rained down, and we hid under a sheet of 8x4 ply, leaving interesting pock-marks in the concrete. Troweling off the concrete became even more testing as the day changed between nice sunshine, sleet and rain. It brought a new meaning to “float finish”. After the concrete fun had taken place more French drain laying or “Stone porn” as it was now called continued on the hillside enjoying the variable weather conditions. Phil the B arrived on site to plus-up the operator team. Drain No. 2 completed, the saturated team left early to dry out and for showers. The clay end of the stick was still being held by the plant team who persevered on site (albeit some in their cabs) for another late session. The entrance into the canal had become so impassable that a hardcore track on geotextile had to be prepared and laid to get the plant in and out. The plant team returning to the hall for their delicious cottage pie, finished off with fruit and ice cream as the evening trip to go cider tasting was preparing to leave. I’m informed that cider flowed well throughout the trip, enjoyed by all that went, and a good night out which is well recommended for future camps in the area. When they returned to the hall more games were played and more cider consumed with some folks
consuming a tad more wine!! Day 6. The weather was playing tricks again: now you see it / now you don’t with the sun, 1st thing it’s out - yeah. The effects of the cider (and the wine) meant a little ginger start for some or maybe a ‘confined to the hall’ for another! Barry feeling under the weather from flu made an early departure and Phil the maestro of the batter forming also departed our happy throng. With the concrete in place all we needed were some bricks to build the retaining and load bearing walls so a team was set to work brick cleaning reclaimed bricks from the old hospital site and bringing them up to the spill weir. After much consultation with our local project team, the layout of the spill weir was set out ready for bricklaying to stat the next day. More of the same for the plant team: dig, dump, compact, grade. More French drain titivating. Stew for dinner which thankfully didn’t spoil as the plant team again was the “site stop-outs”. A trip to the cinema was the evening entertainment followed by a diversion to a pub on the way back which resulted in an extra visitor staying over, all part of the getting to make friends with the locals! Day 7: Last day on site. Now for the finessing works, Paul in an excavator continued his working along the topsoiling of the back of the towpath bank and the team cleared along the rear fence line removing tree roots and levelling out soil that had made its way against the fence. Bricklaying in part continued on the spill weir, while the dig, dump, compact and shape show continued down at the far end around the winding hole. Towpath levelling and compacting was hampered by the intermittent showers, with at times the remote control roller getting literally glued to the spot. The big kit clean up began before mid-day: with the quantity of plant and with the state that the kit was in, much time was going to be needed to sort it out. There was much scraping and scrubbing of the two 9 tonne dumpers, and the kit trailer was cleaned out immaculately and contents put away so tidily. Great job done by all concerned. There was a hint of sadness leaving site for many but a huge level of satisfaction of what had been achieved in the timeframe and under such conditions of a wet and
Meanwhile, the muck-shift continues soggy week. Taster & Iain departed us after dinner for the trek home to Devon along with Peter off to Wiltshire. Day 8: Kit check the trailer, check and pack the accommodation kit, clean the vans and hall all in glorious sunshine. (Still can’t figure where the ladder I walked under was!) Everyone away by midday! Those gluttons for punishment who were staying on for the KESCRG weekend migrated to the site for more dig, dump, compact and shape fun during Friday afternoon and moved to Highnam village hall in the evening as a surprise birthday party was turning our hall into a themed Arab tent, a case of “a Sheik, rattle and roll disco”! My thanks go out to my illustrious assistant Sarah Ashman: without her managing the showers and social side, the experience for all would have been a lesser one to write home about and tell their friends. To my outstanding cook Debbie Curtis and assistant Jamie my gratitude for top nosh and great patience and understanding for inconveniences caused by the late shifts and hopeless estimates of ETA’s for dinner. To our constant H&G companions Wilf, Ted, for their hospitality and support, also to Mr. P and the other H&G volunteers who came down to do their bit with us to make it all happen. And finally to every last person that endured the trials and tribulations of the weather and site conditions at Over Basin / Vineyard Hill, take a bow: you are truly top people, every last one of you. Without the sum of your individual contributions the project wouldn’t have made it to what we now see when we left on the following Sunday, a canal bed with water flowing into it. My sincere thanks go out to you all. “RAF Martin” Thompson
Dig report KESCRG on the H&G Kescrg steal the Glory at Over...
After two weeks of canal camps on the Hereford & Gloucester, it was down to KESCRG’s weekend work party to finish off the job and put the water in by chipping away at their white sanitary glaze - they had been salvaged from the hospital during the original Over work. By the end of the day a course of bricks made the purpose of the structure clear. And the red bricks were in the right place. The digger team beavered away all day, only taking the shortest of breaks despite Eli’s excellent lunch and cake. All returned to the Old School House and did the usual
The motley crew arrived at the Old School House in Highnam, an ecclesiastical looking building with pointed doors and stone walls. The relics of the previous week’s camp were already there: RAF Martin, chainsaw Martin et al. After finding a space for beds some of the group went for a meal at the local Hungry Horse, the remainder drinking in the Old School as per the leader’s instructions. The Old School House is small with just about enough room for the 13 happy campers, so it’s a good job we’re a friendly bunch with no snorers... After a hearty breakfast the gang went off to site. After parking up at Over Basin the group started work. The machinery team consisting of Digger (why is he called that?), RAF Martin, Martin W, Phil the Bitch, Alan Lines, Peter F, Dave Miller and Adrian continued the work of the 2 Easter camps under the watchful eye of Dave Penny, excavating the course of the old canal in accordance with the drawings; Above: Man and machine shifting clay, puddling it using 2 Below: bricklaying on the overflow weir sheeps-foot rollers, and generally trundling around on 9 tonne dumpers. 9 tonne dump, now there’s a thought! Meanwhile back at the overflow chamber Mick and Steve were working it out with a pencil, tape and another drawing. Trigonometry in real life? Crazy! Brick lines set out, the bricklaying team of Mick, Steve and Roy continued with the brickwork, made more difficult by the need for engineering bricks for part of the structure and red brick for the bits on show. Kate, Cath, Laurence and a couple of friendly locals started preparing the engineering bricks
“So Digger (man not machine) cut across the clay dam separating Over Basin from the new cut...”
KESCRG on the H&G
resume of the days activities, amid the smell The rest of us then emptied out the kit, of another evening meal prepared by Eli. counted it out and put it back in the van. No-one seemed inclined to go out for a And then we left! drink, the nearest pub being a drive away, so With many thanks to WRG for lending we sat and drank a few beers and went to us the kit post Easter Camps and to RAF bed in a not-too-warm building. Martin and the 2 week-long Easter Camps for Sunday morning we were up with the getting the job so nearly done that we could lark or at least it seemed like that. After a finish it off and get water in the new cut and hearty breakfast we went off to site and claim all the work as ours! restarted where we left off the previous Mick Lilliman night. The bricklaying team, now with Laurence and less Steve continued with Roy facing up the front walls of the structure. The diggers, dumpers and rollers continued with their work until the canal bed and towpath were deemed complete. So Digger (man not machine) cut across the clay dam separating Over Basin from the new cut, whilst the pump taking water from the River Leadon was started. Water slowly crept over the clay dam, cascading over into the new cut. Kate and Stephen continued with the fencing to make the whole job look like a finished item. In the meantime the maAbove: the overflow weir takes shape chine crew started the job of Below: the water is let into the completed channel cleaning the accumulated claggy mud off the machine using spades and a pressure washer to return the machines to pristine condition (well good enough to hand back off hire). This job looks nearly as grim as brick cleaning with mud going nearly everywhere. Digger even had to wear overalls to stop the worst of the mud going over his pristine clothing, ‘cos machine operators stay in warm clean cabs. Lunch arrived courtesy of Eli, along with a panic to get back to the hall and finish clearing up for a surprise birthday party, well it was a surprise to Eli and RAF Martin!
WRG at 40 Forty views for forty years
“WRG is ultimately a self-licking lollipop” – Rick Barnes (but whatever does he mean?)
40 Views for 40 Years The 14th 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. Sticking with the Cotswolds, time to find WRG Director and National Festival man Rick Barnes and see how far I could get before he could incriminate me. Though the benefit of writing it up is I get to edit those bits out if required... A: It stems from a very long-held boating background really. Been boating for a number of years, and I ended up in a situation with an awful lot of leave one year and I thought ‘ah – I’ve known about WRG for a number of years – I haven’t really done anything – perhaps I’ll give it a go’. Back in the – it seems dim and distant – days of 1998 I booked on a canal camp to go to Droitwich. Not too far away from where I was, so that if I didn’t like it I could go home again. It all kind of went downhill from there. It’s been fun ever since.
Q: What made you come back after that first week? A: A mixture of things: partially really enjoyed the work, [I’m a] practi-
All pictures by Martin Ludgate
Q: How and when did you first get involved with WRG?
cal person, [and enjoy] building stuff; continuing to enjoy the canals; but particularly the people. The canal camp we were on (that you’ll remember I’m sure), the people were absolutely fantastic, really, really welcoming and made you feel part of one big happy family type thing. Some characters in particular stood out as ever they do.
Q: What was the work that week? A: A variety of things, mainly brickwork – taking it out, pointing, clearing the pound just in front of the lock chamber. It was all on the Droitwich on the Junction Canal. It was a bit of an unknown quantity because nobody was sure what we were going to be finding and what needed to be done.
Q: What was your next step? A: I actually came back and did the National in 1998 at Salford Quays. A mud fest which I have succeeded in repeating several times with my work with festivals. Again, very interesting group of people; lots of people there; lots going on and just really enjoyed it.
Q: How did you interest in boats start in the first place? A: Some of my relatives have been very long-term supporters of canals and owned boats. Just recently we found an old cine film that showed me as a four/five year old pushing (probably very ineffectually) on a balance beam. Going boating with them for day trips and that sort of thing. Then occasionally going away for the weekend with them. First full-time holiday was back in the early 80s. It’s scary looking back.
Q: How did the Salford national differ from the camp? A: The number of people; partially the types of work; partially the challenges involved: like ooh – we need to get a pay booth across this rather broken bridge. It was almost – you want this doing? Let’s go away and find out a way of doing it. It was very much the implementation side of things that was interesting at Salford – the problem solving. After Salford I went back to Droitwich and assisted a certain person on a canal camp – just before the
Worcester National. I seemed to spend most of time not actually on the canal camp because we were going backwards and forwards to Kidderminster to acquire a forge. I went straight from the canal camp to Worcester National – I was – very tired. Again, it had its issues: wet and boggy in places as most Nationals are – good times all round.
Q: Did you attach yourself to a regional group and go on weekend digs? A: I didn’t for a very long time really. After Droitwich in 1999 the closest I became involved was with London WRG when we were all working at Over Basin near Gloucester. I would travel down for an awful lot of weekends, from Preston, just for the weekend. Then not turn up at work on the Monday morning, phone up and say ‘erm – any chance I could take a couple of days leave?’. Fortunately I had a very amenable boss.
Q: Over Basin – you were very involved in that weren’t you – tell me about that? A: Wet, muddy, nobody buried in the bottom. Lots of things lost in the bottom of it: mobile phones, wellies, excavators. It was a very interesting project, very difficult to explain why it was the challenge it was. Apart from when you saw all the different complexities of the bits that we were building and the size of the walls we were building. I believe it set out as being called ‘Jude’s Wall’ as it was a bit of a retaining wall around the edge of a basin they were hoping to build. From that it transgressed into dig a very large hole, put a lot of walls in, do an awful lot of landscaping, dig the first bit of canal and by the way that sewage station there (made out of reinforced concrete) needs to disappear. It took a lot of time but it was brilliant fun.
“Dig a very large hole...” - Over Basin, Hereford & Gloucester
Q: How did you get involved and what was your role? A: I didn’t have an official role – I was just a person who turned up and did stuff. It was just an ongoing thing, I wanted to learn a bit more about it, do work on different sites, starting to use excavators. It was an excellent opportunity for me to do that. That accounted for a lot of my time in 2000.
Q: What’s your background in terms of your job? A: Currently I’m a project manager. By trade I’m a mechanical engineer. I’m spending my time doing varying projects in project management. It’s something that’s proved very useful with all the WRG stuff and with festivals. It’s given me a very structured view as to how we break things down into bite sized chunks so that if you’ve got a weekend working party you can understand how much they’re going to be able to achieve and design a task for them.
Q: When did you become a WRG director? A: Many years ago. Probably 2005/2006. It was basically as a result of concern that we didn’t understand what we were spending money on, both within WRG and also within the finance team within IWA. They were convinced they were getting good value for money (nobody will ever say anything apart from that with WRG – because they do [get good value]). We ended up spending about £24,000 on small hand tools and nobody could understand what it was – it was purely a misallocation of codes. When I started to look into it I started to realise that the accounting software at head office wasn’t doing what we, as WRG, wanted it to do. I started to get more involved and eventually took over the financial development side - all the
budgeting everything like that. I was the one who was daft enough to stick my head above the parapet and say ‘I’ll give it a go’.
Q: Going back to festivals – how has your role changed over time? A: Up until 2003 I’d always been part of the WRG team – turned up, did carparking, did litter team – you name it. In 2003 there was a big shuffle within festivals and as a result of that there was an almost entirely new festivals team and I volunteered to help out with the site team. Jonathan Smith was ‘Site 2’ at the time, except he couldn’t make it for a week so I said I’ll be Site 2 for a week. It kind of got a bit hooked from there. 2004 I was Site 2 and have been ever since.
Q: How much planning and time does that involve? A: Lots! The festivals team work very hard behind the scenes to try and think about what’s happening this coming summer but also what’s happening the year after. Looking for new sites, can we fit the festival on it, what changes do we need to make to the festival. Certainly I got very heavily involved in 2006 revamping what festivals presented to local councils to get its licences, to the insurers in terms of risk assessments. Came up with a new model of doing the overall planning. Fortunately that’s been handed out to different people because that took an awful lot of time. It also helps catch what’s actually going on rather than one person’s perception of what’s going on.
Q: Will you be taking on a similar role next year? A: I don’t know! – that’s not supposed to be a negative thing. There are new challenges being put forward, there are certain things that need to change with the festival. If there is a need for me to do something again I’ll take the chance.
Q: You enjoy the experience? A: It has its moments. I think possible low moments were Wolverhampton. We all know the nice mud fest and tonnes of wood chip. I still remember the very smartly dressed chap who turned up with his partner in high heels. Walked up the trackway, got to the end of it and turned back round, walked back down and said ‘hmm looks very good’ and walked out.
Woodchip world: Rick & Harri at the Wolverhampton National
Q: Going back to canal camps – what other sites did you work on? A: I worked several times on Droitwich (there was another year of leading or assisting on Droitwich). The biggest canal camp I’ve led was up on the Lancaster, in 2003, I think it was, where we ended up with 32 or 33 people working on the Tewitfield flight of locks. It was a bit of challenge because the week before I didn’t know whether the canal camp was going to run or not. Mainly because British Waterways had proposed a package of work that wouldn’t have achieved anything. It all came good at the last minute.
Q: What’s your relationship with the Cotswold Canals?
A: In my last house I looked on to the Stroudwater Canal – a reed bank as it was. Fortunately now that’s
Tewitfield Locks canal camp in 2003
gone because it was part of the first phase to be restored. I’ve worked on various projects along the Cotswolds Canals from bit of the project under Pikes Bridge that were left to volunteers, through to running the physical reconstruction works of Gough’s Orchard near Briscombe Port and various bits in between. I’m starting to get involved with Inglesham now at the other end of the canal. A lot more challenges, mainly because of the River Thames.
Q: WRG South-West – how did that come about? A: There were a number of people who had observed that there were quite a number of people going digging from the south west and there were a number of canals in the area that needed working on. I think the idea was born in a pub somewhere, as so many of them are, that we should form a group, with a small nucleus and grow it because there was nothing in this area. I suppose we hadn’t realised at the time that a number of key people that were critical to making the weekends work were heavily committed elsewhere. As a result the weekend working regime didn’t go according to plan. We still exist in name, we have a useful kit and at the moment it’s the challenge to find enough people to make a worthwhile job and to run it.
Q: What are you most proud of about your involvement with WRG? A: I think having achieved the restoration of certain bits of canals (or certain canals in total) that previously people had thought were a complete basket case. And I say that having just this last year had the pleasure of boating along the Droitwich. Standing in a full lock 2 of the Droitwich thinking hmm – I helped rebuild this. The same on the Mont. Knowing that we’ve done something that’s positively benefitted the canal system and that it’s there for many years to come. Q: What is WRG’s greatest achievement? A: Probably being able to take a wide range of people, from a huge variety of backgrounds and get them to actually do the voluntary work in a co-ordinated way.
Q: What is WRG not quite so good at? A: Managing its people!! No – it’s probably an odd one - the people are WRG’s biggest strength. But also its biggest weakness probably, could stem from the fact that they’re all volunteers, they all have different views and nobody’s ever completely right and nobody’s ever completely wrong. There has to be a happy medium somewhere.
“I helped rebuild this” - Droitwich Lock 2
Q: Who has inspired you? A: A very large range of people. The more personally obvious ones of the likes of the Palmers. Without wanting to sound too twee it’s anyone that’s willing to get off their backside and do something – to go and spend the weekend in a cold muddy ditch getting miserable but still do it and come back weekend after weekend because they’re having a good time. They’ve got the bug – it’s that attitude.
Q: Which is your favourite derelict canal and why? A: There’s an awful lot of canal that I’ve liked some of which are no longer derelict. There’s two things that attract me to derelict canals – one of them is the countryside and possibly perversely the second one is industrial archaeology. Any canal that has that mix, which is one of the reasons that attracts me to living near the Cotswolds.
Q: What’s the most useful skill you’ve learnt and who taught it to you? A: It’s the operation of plant in many respects, and it’s not just the being able to drive an excavator, it’s the training regime that says you might not be the best of operators, however, you will do it safely. So who’s trained me? Lots of people. Who’s tutted at me? Probably lots of people.
Q: Ooh – I’m going to mention your wife because it has to be done. Where did you meet your wife?
A: In a muddy hole under a bridge on the Mont. There’s a number of things I remember, for example on the Droitwich Harri was working hard to point up the side pond paddle brickwork. We’d finished the side pond and to make sure it was watertight we’d filled it with water. Unfortunately we hadn’t bothered to tell Harri so she stepped back to admire her brickwork, fell off the edge and ended up up to her waist in water. She married me anyway.
Q: What has changed for canal restoration? A: Going back through the Navvies where people were working on the Cheshire Ring – is the awareness of what people are doing and why they’re doing it and how they’re doing it. The phrase I seem to remember from the early articles was ‘nobody told us we couldn’t’. I think we’ve probably (and I’m guilty as charged on this one) become far too observant of somebody’s telling us we can’t. Don’t get me wrong – there are a number of reasons why we need to think about what we’re doing – mainly because of the overall “Nobody told us we couldn’t”: do we need more of that attitude today? H&S regimes - but it’s still being able to push the boundaries of what we’re doing without making it dangerous or causing an environmental incident.
Q: Where do you see WRG’s future? A: I think we’ve still got an awful lot more of the same. WRG is ultimately a self licking lollipop in that if everything went fantastically there’d be no canals left to restore. Whilst WRG’s form might change, which has evolved a number of times over the years, I think there’s still a lot of canals that need to be restored. There’s canals that were previously classed as basket cases that now have been restored so the complete basket cases are now becoming more likely.
Helen: I’ve got one more – the one where’s it’s usually helpful to have a glass of wine in your hand – BING [raises glass] - do you have any classic “Do you remember the time when...” stories? [I do think we need to talk about Spike the Cactus just briefly. For the benefit of the readers I was the leader on Rick’s first canal camp. What possessed you as a camp to go and buy Spike the Cactus [a fairly phallic shaped cactus] and engrave it with ‘this is a sex toy’? Viv [Day] and I were to share it - which I think we’ve done quite successfully. Rick: There were a number of items in the kit on the Droitwich camp that had random inscriptions on them. One of which was the balloon whisk “this is not a sex toy”. It just kind of fitted with the general ambience of the camp which was quite comedic. Helen: Spike the Cactus still lives - he got given to Rick and Harri on their wedding day. But at the same time Rick and Harri bought me another cactus so we now have Spike the Revenge.
Q: Is there anything else you wanted to say? A: The major thing for me has been the freedom to say “I’ll help do that” knowing that people will support you – it might be on the end of the telephone, it might be financial, but knowing that people are there with the same reasons and same motivations. People just want to see canals restored but also have a very good time at the same time.
Now to Aylesbury to meet yet another man who’s been in the South so long we’ve forgotten he is of Northern origins. I interviewed Bob Keaveney (son of Ted) in the back cabin of ‘Fulbourne’ with a cuppa. By far the most novel interview spot so far.
Q: How and when did you first get involved with Canal Restoration? A: I actually started as a kid, fairly young teenager, a regular canal digger of an age when people would no longer be allowed. I was 14 when I started, there were none of the very sensible restrictions that there are now. That was on the Peak Forest Canal at the height of the Cheshire Ring campaign.
Q: How did you get involved in the first place? A: Probably the way a lot of people do - canal holiday with parents. A couple of years earlier we’d the done the traditional thing, hire a boat to go to Llangollen for a week in the rain - we got bitten by the bug then. A couple of years later at my school garden party the Peak Forest Canal Society had a stall. I made a beeline for that and joined the PFCS (as we called it) on the spot. My parents joined a few days later and it was as a family that we went on our first canal dig in September 1967. It happened to be the weekend that the then London IWA working party group visited the Cheshire Ring for the first time. So it was the first time Graham Palmer, Tim Dodwell and those people saw the Peak Forest and the Ashton – it led to Graham’s great enthusiasm for the Cheshire Ring and Operation Ashton the following year. During most of the actual campaign and restoration time I was only a teenager. I was just part of a larger movement, I never had any leading role. Probably my enthusiasm for waterways resulted in my not very good O-levels and my very bad A-levels at the first attempt.
Q: What can you remember of that first weekend? A: Looking at the photos you’re aware of how crude and basic everything was. The concept that you do a lock chamber clearance without pumping the water out. Lower the pound but there’s still two foot of water and you’re wading around. No hard hats – the concept of safety didn’t exist. No mechanical equipment, not even a simple A-frame hoist – the first bit of mechanisation they introduced. So it was a bit of rope on a barrel – an oil drum type thing – with holes knocked in it with a pick axe so the water drained out. It was hauled up the sides and rubbish was wheel barrowed down the tow path. It was so, so, such an inefficient way to work. It’s part of the development of the waterway restoration by volunteers; previously on the Peak Forest they’d done nothing more than throwing grappling hooks in and pulling out weeds but to actually start clearing lock chambers.... In some ways it was very interesting because there had been a blacksmith’s forge next to the canal so we had the entire contents of the blacksmith’s workshop came out including the bellows, anvils, tools, everything. This was lock 12 at Marple. It was fascinating. John Foley was the working party organiser for Peak Forest and remained so for the first three years that I was involved – he then left to get married. He came back – eventually – still all the same when he came back. Yes I think he still wears the same jumper. After he stopped Pete Stockdale, Tim Noakes and Ian McCarthy then took over as leaders.
Q: Motivation - What made you enjoy that first weekend so much? A: I’ve no idea. I know I became totally obsessed with the waterways and spent too many weekends of the next ten years doing waterways stuff.
Q: You mentioned your mother and father joined as well – your father was Ted Keaveney – can you talk about the work he did? A: Whatever Dad was involved in – I like to be one of the crowd, just to take part – he was always on the committee. He was involved in local politics in Cheadle, he was a ward councillor for a number of years. On the first weekend we go as a family – Mum, Dad, myself – the end of the weekend I’ve decided I want to do this every weekend and so I leave being a regular working party member (we called them working parties in those days) and Dad, of course, left being on the committee of the Peak Forest Canal Society there and then. His first role with his name on something – he was the treasurer of Operation Ashton in 1968. He then at some point during the Cheshire Ring campaign he became general secretary of PFCS. It was at a time
when local authority funding enabled the waterways to be restored in co-operation with BW. He was involved a lot in the campaign and negotiations of the canal being restored. At that time Peak Forest came under the Northwich area of BW and the Ashton under the Wigan area. He got on very good terms with both the area engineers as they were then called. Generally, not just in the North-West, BW had stopped being the enemy and the realisation was that you got more working in co-operation than you did just in outright opposition. After the Peak Forest and Ashton was opened in 1974, at some stage he got onto IWA council and was regional chair of the North West and was a National Vice Chairman for a number of years. The years merge, my parents had a canal boat and they were both teachers; and that was in the days when teachers had six week holidays and they could spend six weeks on holiday rather than catching up on the work they hadn’t done the previous term and preparing for the new school year. So they made full use of the school holidays and once Dad got early retirement they spent very long summers on the boat.
Q: Your Dad’s talked of quite highly with the politics – I think with the councillors in Droylsden? A: At the time of the Cheshire Ring campaign, it was before the local authority reorganisation – so instead of the big councils of the Tamesides, the Stockports that now cover most of the canal we had these little urban district councils like Marple, Bredbury and Romiley, Audenshaw, Duckinfield, Ashton and Droylsden. Droylsden was the one local authority along the line of the Ashton and Peak Forest who was opposed to the canal being restored. All the others were very enthusiastic and saw that it could be of benefit and an amenity – but Drolysden stuck their heels in right to the bitter end. The reorganisation happened in the same year the canal was opened so Droylsden had ceased to exist by the time the canal was reopened. Certainly the campaign my father was one of them: ‘you had to work with the local authorities’. The Peak Forest local authorities were always supportive of the canal. The authorities along the Ashton, most saw it as a dangerous eyesore that, for safety reasons, should be filled in. The Rochdale Canal had a very expensive water channelling scheme done through Manchester – not the Rochdale Nine bit but the trans-Pennine bit. That was extremely expensive and was seen to be a fiasco and obviously now has all been dug out and is a restored waterway. In some ways that supported the argument in that spending a lot of money trying to eliminate the canal doesn’t actually make it any better. Why not spend less money and have the Ashton Canal as a restored waterway. Which is what happened.
Q: Where were you living at this time? A: I lived in the Manchester area until 1972 then I went to Liverpool Polytechnic for 3 years. My first job was in Liverpool so I was in Liverpool for six years. I should mention the Huddersfield. When the Peak Forest in April 1974, I think it was three weeks later the North-East IWA organised a meeting in Huddersfield with the idea of organising the Huddersfield Canal Society to campaign for the then apparently hopeless case of the Huddersfield Narrow. I and a lot of the Peak Forest working party people all went to this founding meeting, I joined there and then, I still am a member now – I’m member number nine. I actually managed to boat the full length of the canal last year – so it was fantastic to see it. It just seemed an impossible restoration at the time.
Q: Were you involved much in it happening? A: Initially I was on the committee (I was the publicity officer for the first six months) but I was a student in Liverpool and it was just impractical to do what was required both geographically and time-wise. I resigned but retained my membership. I only ever managed to work on the canal twice and that was in the days after I’d moved down to London and we did a couple of weekends with London WRG working on the canal at Diggle. Had I still been in the north-west I would have been very involved.
“Impossible” - Huddersfield Canal. 1980s
Q: WRG was formed in 1970 – what can you remember about that? A: When I went to Liverpool the Mersey IWA decided there should a local [working party] group (a lot of other IWA branches had groups) and it happened that the person whose house I was living in: John Boyce became the organiser of it so he, myself, Roger Evans became the hardcore. John then got married and resigned, I was the person to take over and it was during the short time that I was the leader that WRG North-West formed. Peak Forest working party had a fantastic atmosphere and when the canal was restored they then formed Peak Forest mobile to carry on the work. I was in Liverpool so it wasn’t logical for me to be part of that group. It was during the first Stratford Blitz that there was a meeting held and it was decided they would merge Peak Forest mobile and Merseyside IWA working parties and form WRG NorthWest. The result of which Liverpool and Merseyside WRG got its first van and being Liverpool it was stolen within [hours] – despite it being a very old, knackered transit that London WRG had generously passed on. I carried on being involved until I moved down to London in 1978. My idea was that I was going to stay in London three to five years maximum and I was going to move back, I fancied living somewhere in the Pennines. Thirty-four years later I’m still stuck in London.
Q: Did you get involved with London WRG? A: Straight away, yes, I made contact with London WRG. London WRG was going through a bad patch, my understanding was that there had been a split between the people who went to form WRG Cosmo and the remainder. London WRG was a very small number of people; Andy Chapman was the organiser at the time. Jeremy Frankel and Eric Garland – effectively it was the three of them. I went on quite a few digs with them but there are a lot of other things to do in London. I enjoyed seeing the Basingstoke for the first time. We also went to the Thames and Severn London WRG on the Basingstoke in the 1980s quite regularly. My involvement got less and less as I found more and more things to do. Then it happened that I started digging again in the days when somebody called Harrier was the organiser. He had huge enthusiasm but his organisational skills were a little lacking (probably the most tactful way to put this). Andy, he was getting married so he stopped being organiser and Harrier had taken over. Things started to fall apart and a few of us sat down together and said it’s not working with Harrier as an organiser. We decided somebody needed to take over from him and that ended up being me. I had the rather difficult task of actually asking him to stand down. I said I would be a leader for a year and no more than a year, I like being an ordinary Navvy, an ordinary person – it’s too much like work. I wanted London WRG to be there when I wanted to use it and to do it appeared I had to be leader for a while. I was only leader for three years – it was a short period of time which is one of the reasons why I don’t think I really warrant being interviewed [we beg to differ – Ed]. By the time I handed over to Tim [Lewis] we had started the idea that it’s not all just down to one person to organise everything which is a huge responsibility. What had started in the latter months of me being leader was getting other members to share that responsibility and I’m glad to say that’s how we work now. Just at the point that I had to ask Harrier to resign coincided with the point that Alan Jervis took over as WRG chairman. So it was at the time when WRG was reforming itself nationally and it totally changed from that point on. My first ever dig as London WRG organiser was on the Avon when Harvington Lock was being rebuilt. Hutch [David Hutchings] needed volunteers every weekend to keep the momentum going. Four of us went – he said four is better than nothing - do come. So four of us spent a day mixing a huge amount of concrete in the absolute pouring rain. Many people I’ve heard tell this story who were not there: when
Hutchings gave us the what seems now the laughable amount of a fiver to spend in the pub in the evening, we were so exhausted that we still had money left over. Neil Edwards was one of the four. People do not believe it but it’s true. Because it had rained all day on the Saturday, we go to site on the Sunday and it is totally underwater – so we did our whole weekend’s work on the Saturday. Why did I stop? There were other things to do not least was buying a share in a boat that needed a huge amount of restoration. That of course was Fulbourne, the back cabin of which we are currently sat in. I’d done a huge amount of canal boating from early teens, initially hire boats with my parents, then parents got their own boat, then got a bigger boat. Once I got older I’d borrow their boat, had group holidays with WRGies and other people. I’d always hankered after a real working boat and ended up doing a Thames Tideway trip on a Clayton tar boat. I happened to bump into some people I know at Euston Station, I was waiting for a friend, they were waiting for some of their crew to arrive and I managed to talk my way onto this Tideway trip. That was the Saturday and on the Monday I made phone calls to a number of London WRG people and we decided we were going to set up a consortium to buy a boat. The initial shareholders were all London WRG – either current or past: myself, Martin Ludgate, Jeremy Frankel, Eric Garland, Keith Fairclough, Helen Paulger, Chris Spurrier. Went up to 12 shareholders within a few months. Because we didn’t have that much money we bought Fulbourne which was a derelict hulk in a tyre yard somewhere in Northamptonshire. If we had not bought the boat, because the premises were about to expand, the boat would have been cut up for scrap. We bought it for not a lot of money with agreement that we could work on it in the yard for up to two months to make it water floatable. I dread to think how much money and time we’ve spent on it. But it was fascinating to restore it back from a very sad converted, tramp steamer type boat to something that externally looks like a working boat. We struggle with maintenance, so often the initial enthusiasm to do the restoration doesn’t follow into doing the boring maintenance. Renewing the cloths for a third time is not a novelty; putting the cloths on the first time was exciting. Martin is the only shareholder who has stayed with it the whole time, I did sell my share for a short period of time. It’s almost as if I’ve been here constantly. We operate it as a rather disorganised timeshare, the focal point of our boating itinerary each year is the National and usually it goes to Canalway Calvacade as well, so we plan our boating round that. The same week as we agreed to buy Fulbourne I bought a house which needed a similar amount of restoration so the combined activities and having got a taste for foreign travel meant that my involvement in WRG became less. I recently got early retirement so things that time meant I didn’t have a chance to do I Fulbourne is prepared for launch, June 1986 potentially now can do. I never intended to stop doing canal digging – somehow I stopped doing it for a while. Still subscribe to Navvies. My first canal dig Graham Palmer and his friends were selling subscriptions to this then new magazine called Navvies Notebook so I subscribed to issue number seven and continue to receive it. I have to read it of course - because I know Martin if I don’t read it I upset him!
Q: Neil Edwards mentioned you in his interview about the start of canal camps and Neil taking on that role?
Q: Neil was one of the occasional navvies in London WRG in the early 1980s. He was then very actively involved in the National Trust, both as a trustee and with his local branch. He thought he could use the ideas that the National Trust had on waterways, because he was not known outside of London WRG, apparently I provided a reference for him.
Q: What are you most proud of? A: I would say that I was only one of a number of people – I just did what was necessary. One lasting thing: it was under my stewardship that London WRG started having the social halfway between digs and that carries on twenty something years later – that was my idea. That was part of what I saw as a way of running a successful group – in the way that WRG Peak Forest was not just a group of volunteers who went and dug at weekends it was a group for friends who socialised outside of digging weekends.
Q: What would you say is WRG’s greatest achievement?
A: It’s the evolution to be able to use volunteers in ways that hadn’t even been dreamt of at the time when I first started in the 60s - major civil engineering operations. The way so many people have got involved in it, the success of canal camps, the local groups, the annual reunion digs, the BCN clean ups. For something that is run entirely by volunteers (ok there is now support from head office but there wasn’t in the early days) long may it continue. Perhaps now that I’ve got early retirement possibly if this is ever published I may even have gone on a canal dig. The longer you break the harder it is to go back. The risk of going back is that you’d be going back as the boring old fart - I’ve seen that in other things. If I go back then I go back as an ordinary navvy and I will keep my mouth shut.
Q: Who has inspired you? A: It has to be David Hutchings because he was ahead of the field in the type of work - he had confidence that volunteers could do civil engineering. The restoration of the Upper Avon - creating a river navigation is not straightforward. It was the politics and dealing with a river rather than just a canal.
Q: Where do you see WRG’s future? A: Not being an active member I’m not aware of the issues but if it continues to react to changing circumstances in the way it has done then hopefully it will have a future. The type of waterway restoration being done now is very different from when WRG started – I would hope that it would continue.
Q: What’s the most useful skill you’ve learnt and who taught it to you? A: You didn’t get taught things it just happened. I probably gained things through osmosis. Q: Do you have any classic ‘do you remember time’ when stories? A: At the top of the list it has to be the not being able to drink the fiver. Slightly off at a tangent, a period of work that I would rate as the most enjoyable ever was working on the Rochdale Nine in 1971. It was so intense, I actually had my 18th birthday during that period. It’s been so transformed in the centre of Manchester, in those days most people didn’t know the canal was there, Canal Street, even though the canal was open to view, was a quiet little back street – certainly not the social centre it is these days. Everywhere else was entirely behind brick walls, you had to know how to get onto it. So to be working in the centre of Manchester, a group of people working together, we had probably bitten off more than we could chew: the state of the canal was worse than was thought. In four months to get the nine locks in workable condition and to get the 100 boats up – the way we all worked together – it was very intense work.
Q: What is your favourite derelict canal? A: My favourite derelict canal that has now been restored, in some ways it’s two canals the two trans-Pennine canals – absolutely phenomenal feats of engineering (in their original construction), the topography that they go through and having been involved in the Huddersfield – even though I didn’t physically do very much work I was spiritually part of it. In the early days of London WRG we hired from Shire Cruisers (Nigel and Sue Stevens). They very bravely put hire boats on the isolated stretch of the Rochdale so for a number of years a group of us Fulbourne on the Rochdale, 2002 hired and each year would do what was slightly more of this isolated length. So to go back in I think 2002 to cruise the full length of the Rochdale from Dale St (which I known so well from Cheshire Ring campaign days) to then arrive at summit, to the canal we had boated as an isolated length and right down to Sowerby Bridge. The sense you get – first did that at Marple – the waterway that you have known and worked on, to actually see it in use it’s an amazing sense of achievement. More next time.... Helen Gardner
Navvies diary Your guide to all the forthcoming work parties Jun 23-30 WACT Camp Jun 23/24 WRG Jun 30-Jul 7 Camp 201204 Jun 30-Jul 7 Camp 201205 Jul 7/8 Essex WRG Jul 7/8 London WRG Jul 7-14 Camp 201206 Jul 14 Sat wrgNW Jul 14-21 Camp 201207 Jul 14-21 Camp 201208 Jul 21/22 wrgBITM Jul 21/22 wrgNW Jul 21-28 Camp 201209 Jul 21-28 Camp 201210 Jul 25 Wed wrgNW Jul 28/29 London WRG Jul 28-Aug 4 Camp 201211 Jul 28-Aug 4 Camp 201212 Jul 28-Aug 4 Camp 201213 Aug 4/5 Essex WRG Aug 4/5 KESCRG Aug 4-11 Camp 201214 Aug 4-11 Camp 201215 Aug 4-11 Camp 201216 Aug 11-18 Camp 201217 Aug 11-18 Camp 201218 Aug 11-18 Camp 201219 Aug 18/19 London WRG Aug 18 Sat wrgNW Aug 18-25 Camp 201220 Aug 18-25 Camp 201221 Aug 18-25 Camp 201222 Aug 25-Sep 1Camp 201223 Aug 25-Sep 1Camp 201224 Aug 25-Sep 1Camp 201225 Sep 1/2 NWPG Sep 1/2 Essex WRG Sep 8/9 London WRG
Wey & Arun Canal Trust Camp at Dunsfold. Construction of boathouse/slip WRG Training Weekend: Lichfield Canal Monmouthshire Canal Wey & Arun Canal: NWPG camp. Dunsfold Summit and Ifold Lane Brid Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation Basingstoke Canal Monmouthshire Canal ‘Paper Chase’ waste paper collection Manchester, Bolton & Bury Canal Wendover Arm: KESCRG Camp. Working at Whitehouses. Accom at Ivi Wey & Arun Canal: Gunsmouth Island at Shalford, stump pulling and f Montgomery Canal: Preparation for Camps Lancaster Canal Basingstoke Canal Ad Hoc meeting, 7.30pm North Walsham & Dilham Canal Lancaster Canal Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation Montgomery Canal To be arranged Basingstoke Canal (TBC): provisional Cromford Canal Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation Montgomery Canal Cromford Canal Thames & Severn Canal: Inglesham Lock - Cotswolds Montgomery Canal Wey & Arun Canal ‘Paper Chase’ waste paper collection Chesterfield Canal Thames & Severn Canal: Inglesham Lock - Cotswolds Montgomery Canal Chesterfield Canal Thames & Severn Canal: Inglesham Lock - Cotswolds Montgomery Canal Thames & Severn Canal: Bricklaying at either Eisey or Inglesham Locks To be arranged Lichfield Canal: Joint dig with wrgNW & KESCRG
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 201204' 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
pway/landing stages George Whitehead Jenny Black
inghoe Aston. fencing
Frank Wallder Tim Lewis David McCarthy
Dave Wedd David McCarthy
Jim & Liz Lamen Tim Lewis
Frank Wallder Bobby Silverwood
Tim Lewis David McCarthy
Bill Nicholson Frank Wallder Tim Lewis
01626-775498 01494-783453 01494-783453 01494-783453 01992-636164 07802-518094 01494-783453 0161-740-2179 01494-783453 01494-783453 01252-874437 0161-740-2179 01494-783453 01494-783453 07802-518094 01494-783453 01494-783453 01494-783453 01992-636164 07971-814986 01494-783453 01494-783453 01494-783453 01494-783453 01494-783453 01494-783453 07802-518094 0161-740-2179 01494-783453 01494-783453 01494-783453 01494-783453 01494-783453 01494-783453 01844-343369 01992-636164 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 email@example.com bookings@wrgBITM.org.uk 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 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 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 email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com
ease contact diary compiler Dave Wedd: see top of page
Canal societiesâ€™ regular working parties
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 end of Friar St. Reading. Phil Dray 07956 185305
Every Tuesday BCA Basingstoke Canal Chris Healy 01252-370073 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 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 Two weekends per month SHCS Basingstoke Canal Duncan Paine 01252-614125 Last weekend of month SCS Stover Canal George Whitehead 01626-775498 2nd Sunday of month SNT Sleaford Navigation Mel Sowerby 01522-856810 Thu and Tue April-September SORT Sussex Ouse Ted Lintott 01444-414413 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 last w/e (Fri-Thu) WAT Drayton Beauchamp Roger Leishman 01442-874536 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: BCA BCNS BCS BCT ChCT CBN CSCT CCT ECPDA FIPT GCRS GWCT H&GCT IWPS KACT KESCRG
Basingstoke Canal Authority Birmingham Canal Navigations Soc. Buckingham Canal Society Bude Canal Trust Chesterfield Canal Trust Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation Chichester Ship Canal Trust Cotswolds Canals Trust Erewash Canal Pres. & Devt. Assoc. Foxton Inclined Plane Trust Grantham Canal Restoration Society Grand Western Canal Trust Hereford & Gloucester Canal Trust Inland Waterways Protection Society Kennet & Avon Canal Trust Kent & E Sussex Canal Rest. Group
LCT LHCRT MBBCS NWPG NWDCT PCAS RGT SCARS SCCS SHCS SCS SNT SORT SUCS TMCA WACT WAT WBCT
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 Sussex Ouse Restoration Trust Shropshire Union Canal Society Thames & Medway Canal Association Wey & Arun Canal Trust Wendover Arm Trust Wilts & Berks Canal Trust
George is looking for anyone who might help him with a project to design a new lock - and meanwhile, the Queen Mum’s mysterious companion is identified...
Letters to the editor
Dear Martin A Canal Lock for the Future: That is to be the title of my fourth year engineering project. Whilst everyone else will be submerging themselves in such delights as The aeroacoustics of steam kettles (I kid you not, this is a genuine project title proposed by one of the professors), I have proposed to look at a proper, old-fashioned civil engineering design exercise. Well, more precisely the aim of the project is to bring new thinking to the old fashioned problem of lock building – by designing a lock that can be built from precast concrete sections. This could enable locks to be built considerably cheaper and quicker (but don’t worry – it would only be for new locks so WRG will not be out of a job!). The primary aim is to develop a design for the new Lock 1 on the Cromford Canal, replacing the former one that was demolished as a part of the flood management of the adjacent reservoir – but hopefully the design will be sufficiently general to be used anywhere (e.g. locks 8 – 13 on the Cromford as well…). The reason I write here is that I am interested in hearing from people with regard to several points:
. . . .
Do you think you know a lot about current lock building techniques? Are there any things about locks that particularly niggle? Do you have any general comments / suggestions etc? Are there any ongoing projects that you think might be of interest? (I know of a few, but I’d rather hear about the same one many times than miss something interesting!)
If the answer to any of those questions is ‘yes’, then I would particularly like to read your responses – either reply through these pages or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Unfortunately for some of you, I am going to be seeking you out directly with regards to particular projects, so watch out! Thanks in anticipation, George Rogers (Wearing yet another hat)
Dear Martin Just started to look through Navvies 252 and was taken by the caption to the well-known pic of Harry Arnold’s on page 44. Your mystery fourth man is a very young looking Joe Hollinshead, ex-boatman. He was working for Malcolm Braine at the time and crewed on the boat, Malcolm’s Jubilee. He will be mightily amused to have been mistaken for the QM’s bodyguard! Best wishes Val Roberts The identity of the mysterious fourth man (back left) is revealed
Progress Sussex Ouse
Our regular roundup of restoration progress around the country begins this time in the deep south at Isfield on the Sussex Ouse... Sussex Ouse
Pictures by SORT
Sutton Hall Lock at Isfield: The dry early spring has enabled Sussex Ouse Restoration Trust’s work on repairing the hole in the fore bay at the lock to progress much quicker than expected. The hole threatened and obstructed any further restoration of the chamber walls and therefore was rightly identified as the main target for this year’s work. Early in April the area was cleared, the hole drained and many loose bricks removed before the fore bay area was laid with a concrete blinding. It is now anticipated that the reinforced concrete repair, amounting to the mix and pouring of 3.60m3 of concrete, will be completed within a month, way ahead of schedule. The repair, and the recent extension of the access ramp, will allow the lock to be cleared of silt and debris that has built up during recent restoration work, and to be prepared for work to continue on the demolition and rebuilding of the west wall. Terry Owen Above and below: SORT working on the lock forebay at Isfield Editor’s note: unfortunately since receiving this report we’ve heard that the onset of wet weather later in the spring put paid to the Trust’s optimistic predictions of gettting ahead of schedule. However it was hoped that a SORT work party in early June with support from visiting KESCRG and WRG volunteers would get the concrete poured and the work back on track for the summer.
...then it’s off to East Anglia for a full detailed report on the last 12 months’ work on the only canal in Norfolk...
Progress North Walsham & Dilham
Bacton Wood Lock & Canal: The year started with filling sand bags to be used Looking back over the year from April as bank re-enforcement beside the culvert 2011 to March 2012, generally work has under the canal upstream of the lock. This progressed in a fairly orderly fashion at the achieved, we finished the clearance of the various sites. Meetings have been held with spillway, leaving just the tree stumps as all three owners at various times during the mentioned previously. We are hoping that we year, in particular in connection with the shall be able to receive a visit by Essex or pounds between Honing Lock and Ebridge London WRG to carry out the maintenance Lock. Parts of this stretch had been areas of works on this spillway at some suitable time disputed ownership but, following a meeting in 2012. The remaining old brickwork was in December, these problems seem to be taken down from the lock and it is now behind us. completely re-bricked (c52, 000 bricks) and Unfortunately, the bid put in by the waiting for its’ gates, now under construction Broads Authority, which included us, for the on site! It is hoped that we will soon see the serious maintenance of Honing Lock failed to water will be running once more through this produce any money. We can however still section of the canal. apply on our own behalf! The owner of both Meetings were held with the family who Briggate and Honing Locks said that, whatown the old Wherry Pub in connection with ever, it would be preferred that any money the proposed works to the edge of their forthcoming could be better spent on property, which was once a staithe for the Briggate Lock as this is not in such a good pub. The dry canal bed and backsokes in this condition and if nothing is done there soon, Royston Bridge area have been approached it could be quite serious should the chamber at times throughout the year and are now walls collapse. To this end, we invited Roy fairly well cleared ready for the plant to come Sutton, IWA Honorary Engineer, to return and along and do the levelling act. There is still prepare a report on the state of the lock and some more to do in 2012 of course, but it is his recommendations. These are now in hand. nearly there. One WP here on Feb 5th had to Whilst we have received some very be cancelled due to inclement weather – the good publicity in a wide range of publicaonly occasion in the whole period. tions, there are some who write quite vitriolic Ebridge area: Apart from generally letters in response to the local press. As a assisting the owner here by clearing our result the Environment Agency has put a previously stacked brash beside the standing stop order on the local authority to curtail his trees, the only notable event was the deploywork ‘on the canal’. This really meant on the ment of two people in near diving gear to pound between Ebridge Lock and Bacton check on the paddle chamber (west) from Wood Lock. This ‘order’ was later renamed a inside the lock chamber. This venture was ‘request’, and discussions are being held only marginally successful! The remaining between the various parties. trees on the canal bank were all removed by the owner. The water level here is now Summary of 2011-2 work parties roughly as it was designed to be when the canal is in operational mode! The ‘Big Hole’ Bacton Wood Lock and Royston 10 adjacent to the chamber wall (east) has now Ebridge 3 been properly exposed and the tree sitting Briggate 7 on the top removed. The water runs quite Honing Staithe Cut and Lock 6 adequately through this damaged culvert Total 26 back into the canal, below the lower gate Attendances = 262 (19 max at one WP) position.
North Walsham & Dilham Canal
had been agreed. Now we know where we can and cannot go! A great help. Main points here are that the canal bank top has been cleared to the extent of about 50metres and 3metres wide; two large trees removed (which were threatening the canal bank and little access bridge over the backsoke); the trees growing into the backsoke cleared away and a start made to clear the canal upstream of the lock. Not many people know this, but there is a ford across the backsoke! But do NOT venture off the ford because the silt is at least 6ft deep on the downstream side! Celebration Weekend 5/6th May 2012: Over this weekend, to celebrate the passing of the Act of Parliament on May 5th 2012, the EAWA and Trust held an open weekend on the lock island at Ebridge. The event raised over £1500 towards funds, but more importantly showed the support that the local people have for the work that has been undertaken on the canal. Footnote: Meetings have been held, and/or contact made with all the canal owners and also The Lincolnshire County Council; North Norfolk District Council; The Norfolk Wildlife Trust; The Environment Agency; The Forestry Commission and other, funding, agencies. The next twelve months should really see some end-product results – which we have all been awaiting! David Revill, Work Party Organiser
Briggate Mill Pond: An enormous amount of time has been spent here to get the pond back to its approximate earlier size. Following a meeting with the owner, a work programme had been agreed and this was carried out. The far western end piece of the pond was de-silted and the bank landscaped. Our work here is now finished, apart from maintenance, until work can be commenced on the pond wall – but this can only be done following North Norfolk Council work to stabilise the roadway, which had pushed the pond wall over into the pond site. The pillbox, which had been built inside the original coal shed on the site, once completely covered by trees and ivy, is now revealed at the special request of the Canal owners, who have a military background, for all to see. Two Little Egrets have taken up residence in the pond and a lucky photographer snapped one with a fish in its mouth – showing that there are some small fish in the pond at last! We also carried out some work to clear some saplings just below the road bridge. The granary building, part of the Mill site, is earmarked to be partly demolished for H&S reasons by the Council. Honing Staithe Cut and Canal Walk: Work at this site through the period was basically just maintenance – nothing really onerous. There was a couple of trees brought down by a storm which had ended up against the parapet of the road bridge over the canal and these were removed at the appropriate times. A very picturesque area now used regularly by walkers, families pond dipping and for canoe launching Honing Lock and Canal up to Dee Bridge: Only maintenance up to the beginning of 2012 when the proposed work programme was agreed by the owner after the The Open Weekend land ownership
to mark 200 years since the NW&DC Act
Meanwhile on the edge of Lichfield, LHCRT continues to make plans for the diversion which will take the canal under the A51 an A38 main roads Lichfield & Hatherton Canals
Progress Lichfield and Hatherton planning application for a site for. permanent caravans. At the same time, unknown to the Trust, a section of canal, including Lock 8 was bought and subsequently levelled. The Trust is opposing the development but is also seeking to establish a working agreement with the new owners. Just a short distance uphill from this site a section of canal has a new owner and the Trust is seeking to open discussions with him. The building of the property portfolio in the top section of the Ogley Flight is a slow and demanding business. On the Hatherton Canal the long-stalled discussions with Staffordshire Council on land purchase between A5 and M6 Toll have now restarted after the intervention of a sympathetic Councillor. We are also about to enter discussions with Finnings/Caterpillar who are planning a major development near Jovey’s Lock, again close to the A5 near its junction with the Wolverhampton Road. Brian Kingshott
Darnford Park on the edge of Lichfield (where a new diversion is planned to take the Lichfield Canal under the A51 and A38 roads) is still the Lichfield & Hatherton Canals Restoration Trust’s area of immediate concern. Little progress can be seen on the ground but, as ever, it takes more hours of work behind the scenes than actual construction work to move things forward. Planning applications are at an advanced stage and approaches have been made to contractors. Funding is also being sought from several sources but nothing is yet assured. The Trust is optimistic that work will start in late summer on the diversion of a foul sewer, the essential first move. First steps are under way to watering most of Pound 27 (the pound leading from below the largely restored Lock 26 onto the start of the diversion) to a point just short of A51 just after the A38 turn. Sections of the “Big Pipe” (the concrete storm water drain laid in the abandoned canal bed, which we have begun removing) have been installed vertically at our boundary with A38 and will be a vital part of the bank reinforcement. We have been concerned by developments close to the remains of Lock 8. This is immediately west of the new Lichfield Canal Aqueduct, the subject of a major appeal ten years ago to stop the restoration being blocked by the M6 Toll motorway. A parcel land has been bought by people The pipe inlet to the new weir where the diversion leaves the existing line who have lodged a
WACT continue restoration of Southland Lock, look to put a trip-boat on the canal’s summit level, and build a canal centre
Wey & Arun
from pretty. Other, more serious, objections came from the planning authority (the district council), because the bridge didn’t look like the plans that had been approved. So since the bridge was opened three years ago there has been a bit of a battle, and a combined effort by the locals and WACT to raise money for bricks to improve the appearance. A compromise has been reached, a good sum of money raised, and work has now started. Still in Loxwood, and the recently opened ‘canal centre’ (i.e. visitor centre and trip boat base). This has also proved controversial, with some people not happy about its decidedly non-traditional appearance. The difficulty was that there were no ‘traditional’ buildings that could be used, and a new building in traditional style would have had difficulties meeting 21st century standards for accessibility and energy efficiency. So the decision was made to go for a state-of-theart, super-eco building to underline WACT’s green credentials. This was made possible through a generous sponsorship from local benefactor Mr Peter Flatter. The centre is now open, and functioning, and doesn’t really look like the Teletubbies’ house at all (says the WACT chairman). Bill Thomson
Wey & Arun Canal
Physical restoration work by Wey & Arun Canal Trust volunteers continues at Southland Lock, which is now definitely recognisable as a lock rather than the overgrown depression in the ground with a couple of rusty quoin posts sticking up, which it was not that long ago. Even so, progress hasn’t been as fast as some previous lock projects, partly because of the even more than usually isolated location, and parly because of environmental considerations, which thankfully have been resolved to the satisfaction of all concerned. Other volunteer work has been concerned with maintaining the operational section, with some quite heavy work on the summit level, with a view to establishing a second boat operation, light maintenance on other parts of the canal, and landscaping and improvement works at the northern end, near the River Wey Junction. Visiting groups have made an invaluable contribution. Contractors have been working on sealing the canal bed north of Loxwood so that the trip boat operation can be extended. How successful this has been is still rather in doubt because of the general drought conditions facing most of the south of England which could have a negative impact on the trip boats. For more on the Wey & Arun see page 36. Also in this area, work is underway on replacing the parapets of the Loxwood High Street bridge. This is the one that takes the main road over the canal, and the canal had to be lowered in order to provide headroom, which necessitated reducing the rise of one lock and building a new lock on the other side. When it was built, the highway authority (the county council) insisted on metal railings at a certain height, so plans had to be changed at the last minute to accommodate these demands. That brought objections from the locals, because although they “It doesn’t really look like the Teletubbies’ house” did the job, the metal railings were far
Both the Lancaster Canal Trust and Buckingham Canal Society are looking forward to re-watering dry lengths of their waterways
Progress Lancaster and Buckingham
It is going to be an interesting (ie busy) summer on the Lancaster Canal this year. On the navigable length of the canal from Preston to Tewitfield the enhancement and restoration programme at the Lune Aqueduct will (almost) be completed in time for the official launch on 2nd July. Many thanks to British Waterways over the last three years for all their efforts in pulling it all together. A fortnight of WRG camps is planned for the two weeks commencing 21st July to commence work at Stainton-Sellet to dig out the channel on the first part of the dry section of the unnavigable northern reaches, as a preliminary to putting water into that “first furlong” as soon as possible. For those who haven’t been up to this end of the canal before, it is well making the trip if only to enjoy the beautiful north Lancashire countryside at its approach to the Lakes. We can promise the locals are very friendly! Meanwhile back at the south end of the navigable section, at the end of August, over the Bank Holiday, local volunteers will be holding the Preston Guild Canal Festival at Haslam Park on the Lancaster Canal as it approaches the city centre. The event is a combination of the Inland Waterways Association’s National Campaign Festival and an event within the 20-yearly Preston Guild celebrations. All volunteers are welcome to come and help out at this beautiful location in the city centre. A canal cleanup is planned for Sunday June 10th with a final cleanup on Sunday 19th. All our efforts will be well advertised at the Westmorland County Show on 9th September to the large crowds who attend the show on the banks of the canal at Crooklands. Further information about all these events and more can be obtained from the Lancaster Canal Trust website: see www.lctrust.co.uk.
Cosgrove: In the most recent phase of work our volunteers have been working on the bed of the canal since December 2011. The vegetation has been cleared from most of the canal bed and we expect to complete the rest of the clearance shortly. So once again this stretch of canal is looking like a canal and this has been commented on by a variety of people who have walked along the footpath and spoken to our volunteers, expressing their appreciation of the work being carried out. Once BW approval has been obtained the second phase of work will start and this will involve placing temporary earth bunds every 100m along a 500m length of the canal and, when circumstances allow, the rewatering of each section will take place to test for leakage. Access remains a problem and discussions are taking place with local landowners to allow us to bring in an excavator. Hyde Lane Lock: Whilst waiting for these plans to be formalised the work parties move to the Nature Reserve at Hyde Lane where there are a variety of tasks to be done. A considerable amount of mud needs to be removed from the bed to allow re-pointing of the low-level brickwork before starting on installing the lock gates recently received from BW. Other work will involve removing the excess of reeds that have sprung up in the canal bed over the winter and are blocking the flow of water along the canal. These jobs are very time consuming and very muddy but once completed will allow progress to be made in re-watering this section of canal. Smaller tasks to be carried out at the Nature Reserve include: • • • •
strimming around the footpath and seating areas checking on the saplings planted last year and replanting where necessary weeding around existing saplings checking the wildlife habitat piles installed last year. Athina Beckett
Progress Grand Union Wendover Arm
Finally, the Wendover Arm Trust continue to make progress with rebuilding the dry length of their canal - despite the weather
hail storms, that a special arrangement was made with Morgans, our plant hire supplier, March & April Working Parties: These to only pay for transporting the plant if work two Wendover Arm Trust working parties had to be cancelled. In the event the weather saw a major advance in bank profiling, lining held extremely well apart from some short with Bentomat and laying the bottom row of showers and BITM excelled themselves by hollow concrete blocks that will form the laying over 4,000 blocks! base of the channel walls on the length of Our volunteers, especially the older canal currently being rebuilt. ones, are most grateful to BITM for the effort The aim was to line both banks as far that they put in despite a dumper failure on as the Stage 2 mooring wall, an advance of the Sunday morning. Well done and many 75 metres from where lining was completed thanks BITM. last year. This was achieved as well advancDuring the March working party eight ing a few metres past the mooring wall on information boards were either put in new the offside bank. sites or updated versions replaced the The completion of this work was so present boards. The 3 mile post that was that WRG BITM could lay the loose solid removed because it was on the site of the concrete blocks on both banks up to the new A41 by-pass was re-instated. It had mooring wall on their visit over the weekend been extremely well restored by one of our of April 21st/22nd. restoration volunteers, John Henderson. During the week leading up to the BITM Roger Leishman, Restoration Director weekend the weather was so wet, including email@example.com
The newly rebuilt length of channel, showing the blocks laid on both banks
WRG Boat Club members head for Maesbury, join the Pageant on the Thames, and wonder if any more events wil suffer from too much or too little water... WRG Boat Club News
WRG BC Boat Club News cause of either too little or too much water. Did you manage to see the Jubilee Flotilla on the Thames? Let’s hope that went well. Those with ‘Eagle Eyes’ may have spotted club member Nick Grundy in Beatty flying the WRG BC flag, and Fulbourne with member Elaine Scott somewhere on it too. I expect there will be pictures somewhere! I do hope that there will be no change of plans for the gathering at Maesbury Marsh on the Mont, 1st – 2nd September. The AGM will be held there. Please try to attend even if not by boat. We are about to order some more club Burgees. Still a bargain at £10 and available from Lynne (her phone number is on your membership card). I also have window stickers for sale. They are suitable for car, van or boat and can be either for sticking inside or outside. Please let me know which sort you want. Please let me know of any campaign/ fund raising gatherings or work parties that members can get to by boat. I just hope they won’t be cancelled or changed at the last minute! xxx Sadie Heritage 07748186867 firstname.lastname@example.org
It was with shock and great sorrow that I learned of David Howarth’s sudden death in New Zealand. David had been a club officer for some years and a keen and supportive member before that. At any festival or gathering he attended you could be sure that he was helping out in some way. He will be greatly missed, and we send Heather and his family our sympathy and love. His memorial service will have been held before this issue of Navvies reaches you. I did email details to all members I have correct email addresses for. If you didn’t receive them please send me your current email address. Usually all club information and news is imparted through Navvies but just sometimes I need to communicate something of an urgent nature. This year 2012 will be remembered for many different and exciting ‘goings on’ and of course ‘not going on’, like the IWA National Festival. To me it has become the year of the change of plans, as whatever we have planned to do so far this year has been subject to change. The greatest disappointment, so far, has been not going to Droitwich. All the bookings and plans had been made, then BW decided that because of the drought conditions (hollow laughter, as it is as I write pouring with rain again!) that the Northampton Arm was to be closed after Easter so we had to rush off up the Nene to get Straw Bear to the canals this year. Shortly after that the Nene went into flood! I know that other events have Beatty represents WRG BC in the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Pageant been cancelled be-
Wey & Arun Restoration focus Volunteers at work: on the Wey & Arun Canal From a slight lack of coverage of WRG activities on the Wey & Arun in recent issues you might think that work for volunteers has dried up, but that’s far from the case. There are a lot of interesting projects either under way or about to get going in the next year or two, and WRG and the other visiting groups such as NWPG and KESCRG are likely to be very much involved. Bill Nicholson explains...
Recently completed, current and proposed projects
There’s going to be a lot happening on the Wey & Arun Canal in the next couple of years - and we’re likely to be very much involved in it lease obligations and to prepare the way for the planned widening of the Cranleigh Waters cut for navigation. More weekends are planned later in the year to continue this work. Clive Alderman (WRG Forestry) has the details. Upstream of the island on the east side of the A 281 bridge, WACT is negotiating to take control of land around Cranleigh Waters from Surrey County Council. Using a generous legacy this area will first be transformed into a public park for the use and enjoyment of local people and will later provide part of the route of the canal to Bramley. The first working party on this section will be BITM’s visit in July when they should be fencing the area taken on by the Trust and stump pulling at Gun’s Mouth. Closer still to Bramley, it is hoped that work to excavate part of the sites of Tannery Lane Lock and the Gosden Aqueduct for investigation purposes can be carried out over the next 12 months. The former is believed hidden under fill and the purpose of the investigation is to see what if anything remains and if it could be incorporated into any new canal route. This is likely to be a visiting group project over a long weekend.
This is intended to be a quick but hopefully informative run down the length of the canal from north to south to explain the large amount of work that is and has been carried out by both visiting groups and local volunteers over recent months. I say by volunteers, but in some cases this has included working with paid up contractors where the financial resources have allowed the Wey & Arun Canal Trust to speed progress. So let’s get started at the northern end... Gun’s Mouth, Shalford: Here Wey & Arun Canal Trust have leased Gun’s Mouth Island from the National Trust. This lies between the old canal route and Cranleigh Waters (the river that runs close to the canal almost to its summit) with the intention being to use the latter length for navigation. In preparation for this medium term objective, WRG Forestry have spent two weekends felling and removing dead and dangerous trees WACT volunteers brick-face the cill at Southland Lock from the island to meet
Dunsfold Summit: WACT are planning to dredge and re-instate the length of the canal between the two lowered bridges at Fast Bridge (A 281) and Tickner’s Heath. Here the canal lies in a shallow cutting with the restored Farnhurst Bridge and the to-berebuilt Compasses Bridge en route. The latter will be by contractors and initial designs are being worked up. WACT mid week volunteers have cleared the extensively overgrown length from Tickner’s Heath to Compasses which will be dredged once planning permissions are in place and money is found. WACT camp volunteers will be at work on the section from Compasses Bridge to beyond Farnhurst during the summer. The work includes providing a new levelled towpath and access ramp, constructing a landing stage for the proposed trip boat operation and dredging a heavily silted section of canal just north east of Farnhurst Bridge. Future volunteer work on this section will include the construction of more landing stages towards Tickner’s and a boat house accessed by a short canal cut from the main line, possibly in 2013. Sidney Wood to Southland: This is another area where restoration activity will be expanding over the next five years with volunteers having a crucial role to play. In Sidney Wood WACT local teams (the Mid Week Working Party and the Monday Group) hold regular work parties to keep the nearly one mile section of canal clear of vegetation. All that is needed is water. Heading south from here, the next area where work may start soon is in and around Gennets Bridge Lock which is the bottom of nine brand new locks that will be needed to take the restored canal up to the summit. NWPG have already carried out a preparatory weekend last year piping a field ditch to make provision for vehicle access to the site. Further works are planned in the repair of a brick bridge over the adjacent River Lox, possible biodiversity work around the lock site and further work on vehicle access provision to the work site for
the lock and tail bridge. Planning permissions are in place which leaves finding the £300K+ needed for what will probably be a joint contractor/ volunteer venture. There will be plenty of work here for both visiting groups and the local teams. Southland Lock, the next one south, should be fully restored by the end of the summer – about an 18 month time span for the lock itself using contractors to build the main concrete chamber and volunteers the top cill and lower forebay areas. WACT brickies are presently cladding the chamber walls. As at Gennets, about two years of work took place in advance of the contractors starting on site with the need to obtain planning permission and discharge conditions; satisfy English Nature and the County Footpaths people; negotiate and provide a construction road access across a private garden (WACT summer camp 2010). The beauty of this canal is its tranquil rural isolation but this doesn’t half create problems for restorers! Above the lock is a private access crossing which will need a new bridge. This may be another job for volunteers in the next couple of years. Could this be a possible Dig Deep project for the visiting teams? Loxwood and Devil’s Hole: From Loxwood west there are two restored and gated locks, Loxwood Lock and Devil’s Hole Lock (DHL). Keeping the water in the sections between has been challenging. In February and March this year contractors Land & Water worked over a three week period with WACT volunteers to reline a particularly troublesome section below DHL with Bentonite matting. Similarly difficult conditions are expected on the pound above DHL up to Southland Lock and such work may be better carried out using a WRG camp – where if nothing else the vol-
re-opening of the water wheel last September with contributions from various teams. There are other volunteer workers – the hedge laying team who work through the autumn and winter and the depot people at Tickner’s Heath who keep the work parties equipped are two such. All volunteer hours are recorded for use with any bids for match funding. I know that I have been quoted as being a Wey & Arun fan(atic?) but I do think that the project is moving into a very exciting phase. Under Trust Chair Sally Schupke’s motivating leadership and with a very able team of volunteer specialists (the Trust has greatly benefited from early retirements!), plans to open up restoration on more than one front are coming to fruition. I would very much like WRG Groups to be part of these plans and I know that the Trust welcomes them. It is encouraging that London WRG, BITM and WRG Forestry will have visited the canal by the end of the year. Dig Deep may have to wait but even without a single specific project there is more than enough for everyone to do. All that is now needed is the money to pay for it… plus a few planning permissions. Details of working parties, progress etc can be obtained via the WACT web-site with the monthly Working Party News. Volunteers work on the canal every day of the week with the exception of some Saturdays. Alternatively contact me and I will try and point you to a working party that would suit you. Bill Nicholson email@example.com
unteers are generally younger and fitter! I’m sure those laboured long and hard in the cold winter months won’t mind me saying that. Loxwood navigable section: Once you’ve restored your canal you have to both maintain it and promote it. Kevin Baker from WACT has taken on the former and with his small band of volunteers is often out in the winter repairing lock gates and paddles. This year it was Brewhurst Lock. The new Canal Centre next to the Onslow Arms was constructed by specialist contractors but was fitted out by WACT volunteers and the exterior paving and landscaping carried by NWPG over two weekends supplemented by WACT volunteers. Although not rebuilding the navigation, this is essential work that will provide a key focal point for the Trust to promote itself (like the Cotswolds Canals Trust’s successful centre in Stroud). As a job it kept NWPG very busy for two and half weekends in February and March. South to the Arun: The Winston Harwood Group of WACT and NWPG have both been working on the Rowner and Lordings Sections of the Canal. Above Rowner Lock there has been much renewed clearance of the canal between there and Malham with more to follow later in the year. Northlands Liftbridge was redecked and painted last summer by the WACT camp with help from NWPG. One more coat of paint is planned but this is no easy task as a cherry picker is needed to reach the balance weights (Llangollen style). At Lordings there was extensive voluntary effort leading up to the
Gosden Aqueduct over the Cranleigh Waters: initial works planned for the next year
“A nine tonne dumper is much higher up than a three tonne dumper, and consequently it is further down if you fall...”
Tech Tips: dumpers
I know what you are thinking: “Oh no, not more on dumpers, wasn’t there enough in the last Navvies?”. Well, evidently not. One of the changes we made in the dumper category restructure was that people who previously couldn’t drive really large articulated forward tipping dumpers now can, so we thought a couple of notes on things to be aware of would be a good idea. Firstly, a 9t dumper is much higher up than a 3t dumper, and consequently it is further down if you fall. Secondly, due to the width it is often not possible for the driver to see the front wheels, which makes manoeuvring in a tight space more tricky - reversing is actually easier. Lastly, due to the value of these machines, they are “It is often not possible for the driver to see the front wheels” often fitted with an immobiliser that needs a code typing in EVERY TIME you want to restart it. Oh, and if you 5 Learn the incantations required for thy get one of these things stuck, they really do immobiliser before seating and strapping get stuck. So, here are some helpful hints: thyself into the driving seat 6 If following much thought and cogitation, Dumpers: the Seven Commandments and all risks have been assessed, thou decidest to keep the engine running whilst 1 Thou shalt keep the handhold and steps being loaded, thus avoiding much wailing clear of detritus, yea even when working and gnashing of teeth trying to issue the in the swamps of Over correct incantation to get the immobiliser to allow you to restart the machine, then 2 Keep three points of contact with thy machine when mounting or dismounting, thou shalt ensure all brakes have been lest thou meeteth the ground in an unconapplied and the forward/reverse selector is in neutral as well as the gear lever, lest thy trolled and painful manner machine set off by itself when the digger 3 Maketh use of thy seatbelt, lest thou drops something over the back of the leave the machine when thou least skip. expecteth it 7 Stick to the path well trodden with a firm 4 Thou shalt employ a banksman when surface, lest thy machine sinketh into the manouvering in a tight space or driving mire leading to blaspheming and cursing alongside a drop, lest thou unexpectedly from the site leader flatten thy colleagues or leave the path well trodden George ‘ Bungle’ Eycott
Cleanup report from the BCN BCN Clean up 2012
In which the Editor finds a new (ish) bike, several skips are filled with scrap, and BW actually gets complaints for dredging too well! sorry results, swapped it and still got nothing (lol you know who you are Paul Shaw). My thanks to the volunteers crewing workboats from BCNS and Coomeswood Canal Trust, who regularly miss lunch and start before and finish after us grapplers, they do a great job. The usual suspects from BW were there as well, thank you to them. Thanks to Aileen, Moose and Maria for their work, to the drivers and to Dave Pearson local IWA Chairman who I know had been very busy in the buildup to the event, even if he didn’t get dirty. So it was an enjoyable weekend, but please BW/ IWA somewhere new next year please, and to the feral youth and residents of the West Midlands, please don’t stone the visitors, please stop your speeding motorbikes on towing paths, please deposit your mattresses at the local recycling centre and no fighting in the pubs please, we are gentle folk!!! See you next year Chris Morgan, Zone Leader
All pictures by Martin Ludgate
It was good to return to the BCN for our clean up after last year’s sojourn to the Grand Union Canal! But there was something missing, what was it you may enquire? All the usual faces were there, the organisation had been done to a ‘t’, the grub was fab, the accommodation was excellent, and with the usual cold water to wash yourself down, so what was missing? SCRAP. That’s what. Our hosts (British Waterways) had only arranged dredging of bridge holes prior to our event, with the added interest of the local “scrap merchant” population who have also been busy dragging the cut since steel prices have gone through the roof, we were faced with a pretty quiet weekends cut dipping. It comes to something when the highlight of Sunday morning was viewing a Krypton Factor puzzle team effort in retrieving a Y shapped sodden log (half sunk, half floating) from the Wyrley and Essington Canal, not a trolley or a bike I agree but big enough to sink or damage a fibreglass cruiser. (see photos). Well done to Mike, Martin and Richard and the Lady helper from Walsall. There were some trolleys and bikes, some even serviceable enough to ride back to the accommodation on (eh Martin!), but I did have to ask my merry band of dippers several times “if you can’t smile, grimace!!” Some people blamed their One wonders if BW had noticed one of their lock paddles was missing... grappling hook for
The Editor adds: despite the organisational cockup which resulted part of the area we were aiming to clear having been targeted for dredging by BW just before the Cleanup, we did still manage to shift a fair amount of scrap as the pictures show. WRG organiser Aileen Butler also received the following message from Dean Davies of BW: ‘Thanks Aileen, I hear folks were a bit disappointed with the haul – probably the only time BW has ever got in trouble for dredging a canal! No need to thank us though, as it’s us who
should be thanking you, and all the volunteers, for your fantastic effort and continued commitment to this annual project. I am always happy to provide whatever help I can for this great event. Please pass on my thanks to as many volunteers as possible. We really appreciate them. Regards – Dean’
Easter Camp on the Chesterfield
A week or so before the camp, during our final ‘lets-plan-the-camp’ phone call, Steve and I were discussing the camp report. Both of us being rather busy, we decided to trial a new system. Being as we were intending to run the rota on the ‘daily blitz’ system, we added an extra job to the list – write the day’s camp report. The guidelines: 100 – 150 words in any style you want. They weren’t followed, so here goes the essay that was Easter 2012!! [My additions and explanations are in bracketed italics]
Day 1, Tina & Liv [Our first contibution came in pictorial form. Despite protestations that surely the old adage ‘a picture tells a thousand words’ meant they only needed to draw a tenth of a picture, they were persuaded to continue it].
Day 2, Michelle & Federica
A van of newbies were sent – sorry ‘volunteered’ - to collect bricks from Brick Mountain. Fede’s first thought: is this a concentration camp? It was dark, creepy and enormous, and then the Mountain came into sight. Every brick seemed to have a hole, and we had to collect only solid bricks – Fede’s second thought: ‘how can we do that?!’ The team completed their task and say they collected at least 20 van loads of bricks for the bridge. Too many to remember… …Meanwhile back at site Colin complained the brick sorters had sorted bricks that were too hard for the brick saw to cut. Teams on both sides of the canal came up laying bricks. Checking the levels across the canal was novel for those of us who had not seen a water level in use before. Liv had her worst day [though how this could be said after only 2 days with another 6 to go, I’m not sure!], as she had to dismantle a layer of bricks as George insisted they were going down hill. George allegedly supervised for the day but was seen carrying a block and even pushing a wheelbarrow of muck!!
Day 3, Chris & Emma Tuesday started badly with both the Gents & Ladies blocked [a carry over from the football on Saturday which had seen the sewer out the back of the hall leaking as it struggled to work with a capacity crowd at Staveley Miners Welfare FC]. Fortunately Dyno Rod (or its equivalent) sorted this out while we were on site, though one or two had to make a discreet stop at Morrisons on the way there. Fortified by a good breakfast (thanks Heather) we set up on site. The second job (we all know what the first job is!) was to re-erect the temporary bridge across the narrows. This was a challenge for those who removed it yesterday – without the long walk from the other side via Mill Green Bridge. It was, however, re-erected from only the offside – congratulations to our DoEers! Following this, we laid several more courses of the bricks, kindly offered free by Phoenix Brickworks – and ‘lovingly’ selected by our brick-pick teams. Yesterday’s delivery of site container and site office did not include a portaloo [which our local, Geraint, thought was in the site office…] so we have somewhere to go when it rains, but not somewhere ‘to go’ when nature calls (too much tea I hear you cry!). Evening entertainment included bowling as well as swimming (free, as were the showers thanks to DCC) and doing puzzles.
Day 4, Anne & Shaun Colin’s snow forecast came true a whole day late and Steve was forced to cancel the day’s work due to the extreme weather conditions. Heather kept everyone very well fed, as always (except for George, whose sausage was confiscated), laying on an extra cooked meal of soup and baked potatoes. Each of us coped with the unexpected inactivity in our own way. Dave went on a soggy litter pick and regaled us after dinner with amusing stories of his role as The Dirty Harry of the mean streets of Ilfracombe. A game of Football-Frisbee took place in the sleeping area. Tina was forced to take cover under a hard hat; Andy caught a Frisbee in his teeth and Kimm caused the game to grind to a halt when he lay down to sleep [I think he was reading actually, we’d have known if he’d have gone to sleep – the game would have been ‘called off due to excessive noise’] in the middle of the pitch. Laurence spent upward of two hours trying to solve the
sheep puzzle. Peter, aka the ‘Silver Fox’ (Bowling-Turkey-Supremo), issued a general challenge which required someone to get a screwdriver, take up all the canteen floor panels, jumble them up then put them all back down again in exactly the same way. Not surprisingly there were no takers! Shirley read the same two pages of Bleak House over and over again, remarking at regular intervals that ‘Dickens is **it’. Some further excitement occurred when a journalist from The Times conducted telephone interviews with some of the more recent volunteers. With George and Steve in close proximity, what else could we say except that everything was going FANTASTICALLY well [this may explain why so little of the interviews made it into print, and for clarification it was actually the FT doing a piece on working holidays]… not mentioning the permanently blocked kitchen sink, the non-appearance of the portaloo, the lack of concrete for the infill, no sign of the stone steps for the footbridge and, worst of all, the sticky toffee pudding not cooking properly.
Day 5, Nick ‘Shirley’ & Richard [Shirley was intending to write this in a Carry On style, especially given some of the comments of the day. However, he managed to do a good disappearing act whenever the report was mentioned… As such, what follows is Richard’s work!] On site: arrive to find excavations flooded by yesterday’s snow and sleet. So the next job after opening the compound and reinstating the bridge was to form bucket chains to clear the work site – eventually aided by the arrival of a pump. Due to the conditions under foot / wheels, a small team went to Hollingwood Hub to collect road stone to spread. Weather and conditions improved, including sunshine in the afternoon, and much work was achieved. The site loo arrived, the stone & concrete didn’t – unlikely to now as it’s Good Friday tomorrow then the weekend. Photographer visited site, but due to the poses requested of Shirley we’re not sure he was from the Financial Times [further backed up by the fact that along with most of the interviews, none of the photos appeared either!] Evening: Pasta bake followed by chocolate sponge for most with various alternatives for the fussy ones. Beer, cider, more puzzles, pub, DVDs etc. Night: Snoring and farting. Colin had a nightmare that George was stood at the foot of his bed.
Day 6, Alan & Peter Day 6 in the WRG home. An early start today, but we wake to find an empty bed! Had someone escaped the WRG home? No – Shirley had left during the night to sleep in his Mazda Bongo as he was surrounded by snorers and couldn’t escape the noise – even with earplugs! The earlier start was to try and make up a little of the lost time from Wednesday and also to get the leisure centre showers on time as they were closing early for the Bank Holiday – can you imagine the smell otherwise? [I’m guessing that anyone who has been on a typical weekend dig has no need to imagine the smell…] We were visited by Peter’s grandson (aged 3) this afternoon was really excited to see where Granddad was working. He was kitted out with WRG t-shirt, hi-viz jacket and hard hat, and shown how bricks are laid. He was a natural – the next Bob the Builder [he also came very close to eclipsing my day’s work by laying 4 bricks to my 6…]. Tonight, several of us are off to sample the delights of a local beer festival, the results of which may well appear in tomorrow’s diary! [At this point, there is some confusion. There actually is no report for Day 7 (and we just laid more bricks anyway…). This is because the day’s writers followed on from the report for Day 6, and so started with the after-effects of the beer festival – forgetting they’d been there 2 nights in a row! It’ll make the report shorter though!]
Day 8 – Josh & Andy As said in the previous diary, of those who went back (alcys!) to the beer festival, many seemed slightly worse for wear in the morning, especially Dan and his honorary Mum for the
night, Tina. To be honest, the snore chorus of Steve in his alcove and Chris in the corner driving it home every night in unison has resulted in many people looking worse for wear – it was to be a busy day in the “Turdis”. After a stonking breakfast (for most, I [Josh] had a tummy bug), we set off for our concentration work camp. The system for lazily getting the duck boards across the canal failed us this morning, leading to much grunting and some swearing (sorry), and the effort it required completely negated the point of not being arsed to walk 200 yards to the next bridge (that we had to walk past anyway on our way to site). We are a bunch of fazy luckers to be honest. Today would always pose height issues for Colin as, just like the concrete, the scaffolding hadn’t turned up. He and Alan have been building the one side immensely quickly, and seeing their wall (and Steve’s … and everyone else’s) shoot up it has made the whole thing worth it. It even gave George some shelter as he ‘supervised’. Bless. The last obstacle (after walking over wobbly duck boards for the last time) was fitting the scaffold poles into the container so the ‘gypsies wouldn’t nick it’ and Steve PROMISED if we did this he’d sign our books for us. We did. So Steve, it’s in black and white, can you please sign our books? [We did, thanks also to the copious amounts of tea they bribed us with towards the end of the week]. Otherwise I’ll tell your wife you’re smoking stir your coffee with something other than a spoon! Actually, it wasn’t the final obstacle, as that would be getting George ‘The Only Gay In The Village’ Rogers home without Staveley’s finest setting upon him for his choice of jeans / denim hotpants. A Bacardi & Coke at the bar for him I think dressed like that. Whilst washing the vans and on our final walk down to the showers it was obvious the everyone is in a jovial mood, even though they all look absolutely cream crackered. The Jane Fonda workout with bricks indeed. [This last relating to a rather memorable quote from Shirley in the FT article].
To sum up – George Now that I’ve finished typing up everyone’s comments, one thing in particular strikes me: what did we actually do? While the word bridge does actually appear, nobody has actually explained that the work for the week was to start off the building of two brick abutments for a footbridge to cross the recently rewatered section of the canal. Hence why we needed a temporary bridge to cross the cut, etc. Before I round off with all the thanks, I’d just like to discuss the style of camp report. Firstly, I was wrong in assuming this would be (a) easier and (b) less time consuming to write. It has taken me longer, and I still need to finish drawing Liv & Tina’s cartoon strip into something Martin can use. I would do it again though – but I wouldn’t put pressure on people to do it. The comment was made to me during the week that it could be quite stressful for someone with
Pictures by Colin Hobbs
dyslexia (or any of the other myriad of conditions along this line), and of course this is not something that appears on booking forms and something they may not wish to discuss. So I’d probably give people a gentle nudge or two, and then just write it myself. Finally, the thanks. To all our volunteers: the DoE’ers Danny, Josh & Andy; the other newbies Alan, Shaun, Anne, Shirley & Federica; regulars Liv, Tina, Colin, Richard, Kimm, Dave, Peter, Emma, Chris, Mike, Liz & Laurence. An extra big thanks to Michelle & the dog Millie, not for any of the sterling work they did, but because I forgot them last time I wrote a camp report!!! Thanks to all the local people of Staveley for visiting the site so often and being so receptive to what we are doing – it makes a lovely change to be appreciated. Thanks to the local trust (particularly Geraint, Selwyn, Dave & Mick) for all the work they put in behind the scenes and alongside us on site. A HUMUNGOUS thanks to my sister, Heather, for all the stunning food and cakes (and to Liz for all her help). And finally, thanks to Steve for leading again. Hopefully it wasn’t too stressful!!!! I leave with two thoughts: it would have been easy for me to edit out all the references to my idleness in this report. I haven’t, because I thought it was amusing. Secondly, I hope Martin & John have had a good break, because this Navvies is going to be big… Above: work starts on laying the concrete blocks... George Rogers Below: ...followed by the bricks
Christmas already? It might seem a little early to be thinking about Christmas just yet, but we have a couple of advance dates for your diary. The London WRG and KESCRG Christmas Party Dig will be held on the Uttoxeter Canal on 1-2 December. And the WRG New Year Canal Camp will also be held on the Uttoxeter Canal, on 26 December - 1 January. More about both of these in the next couple of issues. Meanwhile we hope to be able to bring you details soon of the WRG Reunion Bonfire Bash on 10-11 November (note the slightly later than usual date). We can’t say where it is yet, but I think there’s a good chance that it WON’T be on the Uttoxeter Canal!
Food Hygiene Courses WRG has been looking at food hygiene training for its cooks - both on camps and regional groups’ weekends. There will be more in the next issue, but for now if you’re a WRG cook and want to take an online food hygiene course, contact Jenny at Head Office about WRG paying the course fee.
Good News - M&B Torfaen County Borough Council has been awarded an £854,500 Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) grant for the restoration of a mile of the main line of the canal includin eight locks. It is expected to be a major volunteer project with around 270 local volunteers taking part but lots of work for visiting volunteer groups once it gets going, so WRG regional groups and other mobile working party groups should bear it in mind.
Navvies News Meanwhile the Stroud on Water Festival (incorporating the IWA National Trailboat Festival) brought trailable boats onto the Phase 1a section for the first time over the Jubilee Bank Holiday weekend: the picture (below) shows the canal in use at Ebley.
Canal Camp Reports In this issue you will find three camp reports in rather different styles. Perhaps they will provide you with some inspiration when you come to write up the reports for Navvies from this summer’s canal camps - or perhaps not. Either way, we’d like to include the reports from the first summer camps in the next issue (because we’ll struggle to fit them all in the following one), so to maximise your chances of getting your report published in full and unexpurgated, please send it to the editor as soon as possible. Don’t forget to send some photos too, but if you’re planning to send a lot of large files by email please contact the editor first to make sure we can cope. Alternatively feel free to end them by post on CD / DVD or put them online and send us a link.
Training Weekend Just in case it isn’t too late by the time you receive this issue, don’t forget that the WRG Training Weekend is on 23-24 June, hosted by the Lichfield Canal. Contact Ali Bottomley 07719 643870 firstname.lastname@example.org to see if it’s possible to make a last-minute booking.
Unfortunately the Cotswold Canals Trust hasn’t been successful in its initial application for funding for the Phase 1b section. This is the length from Stonehouse to Saul, which will link the Phase 1a Stonehouse-StroudBrimscombe 6 miles (currently under restoration) to the rest of the canal network at Saul Junction. However the Trust is hopeful that with a bit of tweaking a revised bid submitted in a year or so’s time, once Phase 1a is a bit closer to completion, will be successful.
Not such good news
Trailboating on the Cotswolds for the Festival
to Mel and Nat Belderson on the arrival of Henry Morris Belderson on 17 April also to Helena Howarth & Krzysiek Rosiecki on the their marriage to Jenny Black and Adam ‘Digger’ Morris on their marriage and to Chris Wicks and Emma Blackburn on their engagament
The next issue of Navvies will include the full directory of WRG and canal society contact details. If you have any updates, additions, deletions, corrections or anything else that needs changing, please send them to the editor.
Thanks to Chris Griffiths of Stroudprint for continued assistance with Navvies cover printing
Inglesham Update Stamps wanted
Send used stamps, petrol coupons, phone cards, empty computer printer ink cartridges to IWA/WRG Stamp Bank, 33 Hambleton Grove, Milton Keynes MK4 2JS. All proceeds to canal restoration.
All Change at KESCRG Ian Williamson has stood down after many years as Chairman of KESCRG. Stephen Davis has taken over, having handed his former position as Secretary to Kate Penn.
Attention drivers with tacho cards This affects WRG drivers with digital tacho cards - which generally means those who tow trailers with WRG vehicles. The UK tachograph card authority has become aware of an issue with digital Driver cards issued between 24 Mar 07 and 31 Aug 08 malfunctioning. The security certificates in the microchip incorrectly expired on 23 March 2012 even though the validity date displayed on the front of the cards was correct. The authority is working as fast as possible to issue new cards to those affected. The UK enforcement bodies are exercising discretion in enforcement activity with the 15 day period in which a driver can drive without a card, but the driver must keep records using the print out facility on the Vehicle Unit. Contact George Eycott on email@example.com with any queries.
The IWA Inglesham Lock Appeal to raise funds to enable WRG volunteers to restore this crucial lock where the Cotswold Canals meet the Thames had raised almost exacrly £100,000 by the time we went to press, which should be enough to keep us busy this summer. To support the appeal see: www.inglesham.org.uk
Contacting the chairman: Mike Palmer, 3 Finwood Rd, Rowington Warwickshire CV35 7DH
Tel: 01564 785293 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Dial-a-camp To contact any WRG Canal Camp: 07850 422156 (Kit ‘A’ camps) 07850 422157 (Kit ‘B’ camps)
What? The back page of Navvies jumping on the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee bandwagon? Perish the thought!
On the level...
Dear Deirdre I read in the paper that The Queen has given up horseriding in her 85th year. Do you feel it might be appropriate to invite her to join the canal restoration movement, now that she probably has time on her hands at the weekend? - Helen, Much Wenlock Deirdre writes: Yes thatís probably a good time to send an invite as sheís nearly as old as most Essex members anyway and the dogs will fit right in. The Duke of Edinburgh is probably about as politically correct as most WRG members so heíd probably find a good home with us too.
My thanks to Colin Hobbs for the above photo of leader George Rogers on the Chesterfield. We suggest... “WRG can rely on its canal camp leaders to remain level-headed under all circumstances...”
Do you have a question for Deirdre? Just email email@example.com Any alternative suggestions to the Editor, please.
Seldom heard: No 16
“I'm so glad we did something different for the Jubilee weekend.”
...in two weeks page 52
Navvies Magazine for volunteers restoring the waterways - edition 253.