volunteers restoring waterways
navvies waterway recovery group
Issue No 254 August-September 2012
Navvies Production Editor: Martin Ludgate, 35 Silvester Road, East Dulwich London SE22 9PB 020-8693 3266 email@example.com Subscriptions: Sue Watts, 15 Eleanor Rd., Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Manchester M21 9FZ
Navvies is published by Waterway Recovery Group, Island House, Moor Rd., Chesham HP5 1WA and is available to all interested in promoting the restoration and conservation of inland waterways by voluntary effort in Great Britain. Articles may be reproduced in allied magazines provided that the source is acknowledged. WRG may not agree with opinions expressed in this magazine, but encourages publication as a matter of interest. Nothing printed may be construed as policy or an official announcement unless so stated - otherwise WRG and IWA accept no liability for any matter in this magazine.
Printing and assembly: John & Tess Hawkins, 4 Links Way, Croxley Green, Rickmansworth, Herts WD3 3RQ 01923 448559 firstname.lastname@example.org
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. ISSN: 0953-6655 ÂŠ 2012 WRG
CHerdterfield Canal Trust
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.
Visit our web site www.wrg.org.uk page 2
Contents Tim Lewis
In this issue...
Left: Canal camp on the Monmouthshire & Brecon Canal: see camp reports, pages 6-12. Above: London WRG shuttering up for a concrete pour on the North Walsham & Dilham. Below: the Chesterfield Canal Trust’s rally at the completed Staveley Town Basin, with the new lock under construction in the background - the site for this year’s two camps. Front cover (by Ed Walker): piling at Deepcut Locks on the Basingstoke: see camp report, pages 37-39. Back cover: a selection of photos from the early summer camps, clockwise from top left Mon & Brec (Ralph Mills), Wendover (Stephen Davis), Swansea (Martin Ludgate), Wey & Arun (Bill Nicholson) In the next issue we hope to have reports and photographs from the remainder of the summer’s camps. Please remember to send some photos from your canal camp to Navvies
Coming soon latest news on final summer camps, Reunion, Christmas digs 4-5 Camp reports Two weeks on the Mon & Brec, then one on the Wey 7 Arun 6-12 40 interviews former Logistics supremo Mick Beattie faces the questions 13-21 Diary canal camps and weekend digs 22-24 WRG BC Boat Club news 25 Progress a roundup of news from restoration projects around the country 26-28 Directory WRG and canal societies 29-31 Dig report a KESCRG weekend dig on the Wendover Arm... 32-33 Camp reports ...followed by a whole week of Kescrg on the Wenedover, then a Basingstoke camp 34-39 Looking back the story of Mr Mac’s Ashes 40-41 Navvies News help needed north & south 42 Infill WRG and the Olympics 43
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 email@example.com. 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.
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Summer Camps late news
By the time you receive this the summer Canal Camps programme will be drawing towards a close, but there’s still time to bring you details of a couple of changes to the last two weeks of the season. The work on the Montgomery Canal has been badly hit by the weather - basically the ‘Pant Dry Section’ (the length just north of the Welsh border that needs re-lining to make it hold water) has failed to live up to its name. It’s a very wet section right now - so wet that the planned channel lining work proved impractable (not to mention that it’s become home to a few rare beasties who like the damp). Some alternative jobs have been found, mainly on towpath work, but not enough to keep us occupied for the whole time so camps 2012-22 (18-25 Aug) and 2012-25 (25 Aug - 1 Sep) have had to be cancelled. Meanwhile on the Cotswold Canals there have been a few hold-ups with the planning for some of the work on the site at Inglesham Lock, but fortunately it has proved possible to find extra work sites at Eisey Lock and at Griffin Mill Lock (near Stroud), which is where the last two camps 2012-21 on 18-25 Aug and 2012-24 on 25 Aug - 1 Sep will concentrate. Meanwhile Chesterfield camps 2012-20 and 2012-23 go ahead as planned.
Canal Camps and more...
The Oxford bridges project: brickies needed A bit of an unusual project, this: we’ve been approached by the Canal & River Trust (OK actually they were still British Waterways when they first raised it) to repair two bridges on the Oxford Canal. They’re old farm crossings that aren’t actually used (which is why they haven’t been prioritised for repair) but they’re historic structures dating back to the 18th Century and it would be sad if they were demolished (as they would have to be soon if they didn’t fall down of their own accord). There’s been a certain amount of discussion on the WRG Facebook group and elsewhere about whether we should actually be doing what might be classed as maintenance on a navigable waterway at all, when our main purpose is restoration; also on whether we should be covering for C&RT (and BW) failing to maintain its own structures. The WRG Committee’s view (or as near to a unanimous view as you’ll get!) is that as a one-off, an opportunity to help C&RT understand working with volunteers so that it can develop its own volunteer teams, and a chance to get off on a better footing with the new charity than we’ve been with BW at times (not to mention a chance to save two bridges from falling down) it’s a good project for us to support. As for how to support it: well, first there’s a WRG BITM weekend of preparation work on 15-16 September - see Diary pages for contact details. Then the main repair work will take place during an extra canal camp on 5 to 15 October - contact Head Office for details and to book. The work will be mainly brickwork repair and re-pointing, so we’re keen for experienced brickies to sign up for this one. So come along and show C&RT that we know our headers from our stretchers!
Ashtac revisited: IWA Manchester Branch Cleanup 13-14 October Celebrate the 40th Anniversary of Ashtac, the ‘Ashton Attack’, where the Ashton and Lower Peak Forest canals around Dukinfield Junction were worked on by nearly 1000 volunteers in one weekend in 1972. This contributed significantly to the re-opening of the Cheshire Ring to navigation two years later. Help to re-create the work 40 years on by clearing the debris that has accumulated since then, and improve navigation for all boaters. Starting at Dukinfield Junction, the plan is for volunteers to work in all three directions on the Ashton Canal, the Lower Peak Forest and the Huddersfield Narrow. Rubbish and debris will be pulled out of the canal and put into workboats. Those preferring a lighter task can have a go at litter picking. Volunteers with relevant qualifications are required to operate the work boats (eg Helmsman’s certificate or Boatmaster’s licence).
For volunteers from further afield wishing to make a weekend of it, basic WRG-style accommodation is being arranged. Volunteers are also required for helping with catering. For information or to say you would like to join in, please contact Alison Smedley, IWA Branch Campaign Officer, by email: firstname.lastname@example.org, phone: 01538 385388 or mobile: 07779 090915.
October Camp on the Chelmer & Blackwater: 27 October - 3 November For our autumn camp this year we return to the Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation, where we’ve been supporting Essex Waterways (part of our parent body the Inland Waterways Association) in its efforts to put this attractive river navigation back into good condition after saving it from closing down when the old canal company went bankrupt several years ago. As we went to press the camp was booking up very quickly so get in touch straight away if you want to go on it.
WRG Reunion Bonfire Bash: November 10-11 This is the big one: the annual get-together for 100+ volunteers, hopefully bringing together first-timers from this year’s camps, old hands and regulars from all the WRG and other regional working party groups for a major scrub-bash and a big party on the Saturday evening. And the question everyone’s asking is “Which canal is it on this year?” Well, as we went to press it still hadn’t quite been finalised but the Herefordshire & Gloucestershire Canal at Withington, in the Herefordshire countryside just east of Hereford, was looking almost certain to be the site. They’ve got masses of trees and vegetation to be cleared on a length of canal that hasn’t been worked on before. We hope to confirm the site and details of the accommodation very soon - there will be full details in the next Navvies but in the meantime the information will appear on the WRG website and Facebook group as soon as we know it. Booking will be via Head Office as usual, and online booking will be available via the WRG website.
...and then Christmas!
The start of the WRG Christmas festivities will be the London WRG and KESCRG Christmas party dig, working on the Uttoxeter Canal (that’s the former extension of the Caldon Canal from Froghall to Uttoxeter) near Crumpwood on 1-2 December. That’s just a couple of miles away from Dukinfield, site for the Ashton cleanup Alton Towers. “So what?” I hear you ask. Well, it’s given us an idea for the theme or the Saturday evening fancy dress party and games: ‘amusement park and fairground rides’. So put your thinking caps on, and we’ll have more details next time.
...and then New Year! ...which means New Year Canal Camps. The official WRG camp will also be on the Uttoxeter Canal, there’s a possibility of a southern WRG camp on the Cotswold again, and the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust are expected to run their usual New Year camp in the Foxham / Dauntsey / Seven Locks area. More details in the next issue. For all week-long camps and centrally-booked events unless otherwise stated, you should book via Head Office: Tel: 01494 783453, email: email@example.com, online bookings at www.wrg.org.uk.
Our reports from the summer Canal Camps kick off with two weeks on the Mon & Brec - incorporating three days on a brand new site: the Swansea Canal
Monmouthshire & Brecon
good spirit and humour, from a legion of keen foot soldiers. The canal Trust and local authority were surprised and delighted at the work accomplished. Thanks to a great team. Martin Danks
We came, we saw, we conquered. We got very wet and muddy at Tredegar lock, that slowly emerged form decades of vegetation and mud. In the vanguard on Sunday, curly Bob lead a team with a strimmer and then dropped trees on a 6 denari (*) as lookouts fended off walkers, joggers, and horses on National Cycle Route 46. The week started out wet, got wetter, then deteriorated. We had a shortened day on the Wednesday but made up for it as the weather eased on the Thursday. Meanwhile, Ralph took others with mattocks and spades to the off-side exposing the coping stones and installing the safety fence on the side of the lock. Pip, Andrew and Sue made up part of the team in the bye-wash and by the end of the week it was completely cleared out. They then started on the lower wing walls. The top chamber was cleared of mud and large blocks of stone before we started taking out old concrete below the stop planks, the Dof E phalanx (*) ably manning (and womanning) the chipping hammer. \ * The Franco Roman theme developed as we visited the amphitheatre at Caerleon, ably guided by archaeologist Ralph. This was preceded by a Roman feast concocted by Claire, the piece de resistance being the roast dormice with a mead-like drink, then pears in syrup. Statutory visits were made to the Phil (or the ‘Tropic) the landlady remembering the “pint of usual” from last year. We also swam, bowled, listened to a talk from the local canal Trust and played ping-pong. Scrabble rules were stretched to include franglais. Much hard work all week, with
All pictures by Ralph Mills
Monmouthshire & Brecon Canals Camp 2012-04: 30 June - 7 July
Above: getting to grips with the mud in the forebay. Below: Katie wields the jackhammer
Monmouthshire & Brecon Canals Camp 2012-06: 7 – 14 July To rather complicate matters, this was a camp with three leaders, two sites... and three camp reports. So first let’s hear from Cath Coolican-Smith, who was down to lead the camp - but things didn’t quite work out like that...
the hearts of most people – especially those with responsibility for safety (Oh yes, the leader, that’ll be me then...) but as I had one assistant and a MUP [‘Most Useful Person’ an experienced volunteer able and willing to assist the leadership] in training to be an assistant, plus two really experienced volunteers, I just told them what needed to be done (“restore the lock” – sounded about right to me) and let them get on with it and supervised from the safety of the van step.
C ire sh an ) org ned lam do l na G aban ( Ca re d) da ne er do Ab ban (a
It has to be said that the last thing Jenny Black needed popping into her inbox six days before her wedding was an email from me At this point, then, we’ll hand over to the saying that I might not be able to lead the MUP, Chris Byrne to see how he got on... camp in 6 days’ time as I had labrynthitis. However by the time the doctor had manAfter working on the Herefordshire & Gloucesaged to get some drugs into me (which it ter Canal for several years, I have come into turns out are also used for treating anxiety) I contact with WRG a couple of times, and over was fairly confident that it would all be fine the past year or so I had been thinking of joinand we were all systems go – apart from the ing. After the successful WRG 2 week camp at fact that I had been advised not to drive and Over basin this Easter, I booked onto two camps I was the only person on the camp with both this year - the first being this one. After a while, a trailer authorisation and a tacho. there was still no Assistant Leader, so with my “Never mind”, I said – we’d cope, it experiences of this role on the H&G I decided wouldn’t be a problem – and anyway if I to apply for it, only to be beaten to it (all of a couldn’t do much on site the problem of not couple of hours!) by Hamon Stewart. having a cook was surely surely... yes, OK, Therefore my role was to be a MUP (Most with hindsight this was a bit over optimistic Useful Person) & train to be an Assistant even by my standards! Leader. Just before the camp started, our To be honest, Fred didn’t need telling Leader, Cath Coolican-Smith, fell ill. Bravely that far from having both vans and trailer Cath still wanted to come onto the camp and delivered to his camp he was only getting decided to stay mostly at the accommodation one van and if he wanted the van and trailer and became our camp cook. Which meant he’d need to come get it – but Fred being Hamon now became the leader on the site, with Fred he calmly took this in his stride and myself his Assistant. arranged to arrive at Crosskeys Station at 10 We all arrived on Saturday at the accomon the last Saturday and I promBrecon ised to get him collected. Main South Monmouthshire & So on the Saturday morning Brecon Canals Wales canals Hamon, Chris and I squashed Nav Camp 6 igab into Hamon’s Volvo with all our le Swansea kit plus meat for the week in cool Canal site boxes, and headed for Crosskeys ea ns Merthyr Tydfil a to take over from the previous Sw nal l a ) n week’s leader Martin. Ca red Ca Site for th resto a e As we arrived, rather worCrumlin N ing camps (be Arm ryingly two of our volunteers 4 and 6 Neath immediately left for Cardiff but they promised they’d be back by Swansea 14 Locks 5 they just wanted a break havTennant Canal Newport ing been on the previous week’s (restoration proposed) camp. Now clearly I wasn’t up for Cardiff working on site – the thought of someone with labrynthitis waving Bristol a mattock around is not a happy Channel one and would strike fear into al
modation in Cross Keys, with the rain pouring down on us, only to find out that the last week’s camp had only had one dry day all week; therefore we were expecting a wet week ahead of us. We had three happy campers staying over from the previous week’s camp: Ralph Mills, Bob Coles, and one of our French volunteers Elias Harrous. We managed to fit in a large shopping trip before all the other volunteers arrived. After the health & safety video and dinner, we settled down in ‘the crypt’ to watch a DVD that I brought along with me about the Mon & Brec Canal. This gave us all a bit of a history lesson about the canal that we were going to work on for the next week. The first day on site, we all had a tour of the previous week’s work on Tredegar Lock, Draper’s Lock (which WRG worked on last year) and also several other locks upstream that hopefully will be worked on in the near future. We were very fortunate, as we were blessed with sunshine for most of the day with no rain. The majority of work on the first day was clearing the nearside lock wall, which included people be trained and using the fall arrest harnesses when working nearer to the edge of the lock chamber. The stone walls in the upper chamber were being repaired including re-pointing with a lime mortar mix. The pump was also set up to remove the excess water in the lock chamber so we could safely enter the lock to carry out clearance & repair work. Upon lowering the water level, we noticed a slight leak in the dam, where the water was flowing into the lock by following the wing wall joints. This was going to cause us a slight challenge every day by having to pump out the lock every morning for a couple of hours before we could enter the chamber to work. Hamon & myself took on the challenge of leading the site, of which was new to us both, and we work well together as a team. After working on site, most people were a quiet in the van and feeling a bit tired on the way back to the accommodation, after a good first days hard work, which was magically cured by the lovely hot showers we all had at the Risca Leisure Centre. We were all grateful of this boost of energy. After Dinner, we had a DVD night in, which we all settled down and watched The Matrix. On Monday we started to uncover the lower nearside wing wall from the dam, ready for repairs & lime mortaring, of which we found the recessed parts where the original wooden rubbing strakes were located. Part of the offside bank was lowered to the
wing wall level ready for the locals to finish off the bank. Work continued into the by-wash channel by clearing the stonework and lime mortaring the joints. After the water level in the lock was lowered once again, we were able to enter the chamber to clear out the debris and the lots of the fallen stone work. Work was also started on the offside of the bridge over the lock, where several parts have fallen down and need realigning. When we returned back to the accommodation after we showered, the tools were sorted ready for the next day when we would be running two sites on two different canals. Hang about: two different canals? Back to Cath for a quick explanation... By the Tuesday however we had another problem – the site was splitting in two as we were working on the Swansea canal as well for three days. So I delegated Hamon to run the Swansea site and merely accompanied them over to introduce them to the locals on the first day, leaving Chris in charge of Tredegar Lock. ...before Chris continues the story... We had a guest staying with us tonight, Martin Ludgate, who was wearing a different ‘hat’
Swansea locks: all there was to see at the start...
tonight, predominately here to create an article on the Swansea Canal for Canal Boat magazine by joining some of our team who our starting work in the morning. On Tuesday, once again, I was promoted to become the site leader for the Mon & Brec Canal site, due to my technical knowledge which was needed on this site, whilst Hamon went to lead the Swansea Canal site, which was mainly ‘Scrub bashing’ to uncover a couple of locks over the next three days somewhere in the jungle! I believe this was the first time WRG have worked on this Canal, so was a moment in history for all involved. This seems a good time to hand over to the third camp report writer and leader of the camp. Let’s hear from Hamon Stewart on how the Swansea site got on...
vides good habitats for bats further up the trees. The local volunteers in the Swansea Canal Society were all very friendly, welcoming, enthusiastic and hard-working. When one of the local residents heard about the canal restoration, she kindly offered to make tea and coffee for volunteers as a contribution – she also generously provided a small mountain of biscuits each time on the tray. Each day we took our sandwiches to the River Side visitor centre a short drive away, where the locals had thoughtfully arranged for us to have seats & tables available and treated us to an array of their wonderful home-made Welsh cakes, Victoria sponge (some of the best I’ve ever tasted), chocolate brownies, fruit cake and more. On our first day there we set about attacking a particular overgrown lock that was supposed to be Lock 17, but due to the amount of undergrowth concealing it turned out to be actually Lock 18. Lock 17 has a preservation order on it, but for that status to be maintained it has to be shown to be worthwhile and also now to be having restoration work underway. With pressure on the local Society from the council, this had become a priority that needed to be addressed fairly urgently. Having performed a good general first attack on Lock 18 on the first day before it was realised it was not in fact the intended lock, day 2 saw us moving on to Lock 17 which seems to be the best of the three we worked on in terms of what remains, which in this case include a dry dock behind the main lock where reportedly the last boat to be built on the canal was constructed in 1921. We also uncovered some
As part of the 7-14 July Mon & Brec camp one van load of people on each of three days was sent to help the Swansea Canal Society start work on a number of locks close to Pontardawe. The main purpose was to make the canal visible by cutting back a lot of the vegetation around it, to promote it not just to the drivers on the A-road running beside it but also to a number of key local decision-makers who will determine how various things about it will proceed, and to promote the Society’s restoration of it. Working with volunteers from the Swansea Canal Society, by the end of our time there had partially revealed three locks from the undergrowth, featuring intriguing mounds, dips & recesses. Thick roots growing out of walls made of large stones looked a lot like the photos often seen of places like Angkor Wat and Mayan ruins in the jungle. We had to proceed with considerable care when trimming new areas of vegetation before we could see what we were dealing with. Hogweed & Japanese knotweed were also present and needed suitable warnings to be given out. A local conservationist had been advising the local society of wildlife concerns, and among several points we were told not to damage or remove ivy from the base of trees as it pro...but recognisable features soon began to be uncovered
handy steps at one side of Lock 17. When we arrived in the morning of the third day, we found some goats had escaped from their enclosure behind the canal and were nosing around eating various greenery. One of the local residents went to round them up and let their owner know. We concluded our work on Lock 17 in the morning, and after lunch we progressed on to Lock 16. There is at least one substantial tree growing through one of the walls there, and at some stage the stones it has pushed upwards out of alignment will need some significant realignment. One side of Lock 16 was unfortunately demolished for the A road, leaving only the one wall on its own with what is now a water channel in front of it and a culvert at each end. As a very happy coincidence, the council had been trimming the grass verges past Lock 16 in the morning but the end of their run was before Lock 17 so it didn’t affect our morning activities. It was very useful that they’d cut the verges giving us considerably easier access to Lock 16 after lunch. Amazingly despite the dreary weather through most of England during the week, the only significant rain we experienced was on the last day in the afternoon, so we felt we had escaped fairly lightly. The other half of the group back at the Mon&Brec were not so lucky that day and had a very soggy day. All in all, we uncovered some very interesting stone work and structures, and it was tantalising to leave it as would have been very interesting to uncover more. Hopefully the exposed stonework will attract additional interest to the canal from passers-by and the society will flourish. The partial demolition of some of the locks on this part of the canal’s route is an additional challenge, but with time and perseverance a great deal can no doubt be accomplished on what is a very interesting section of abandoned canal almost reclaimed by nature. So what was happening on the Mon & Brec while Hamon and his team were working on the Swansea? Back to Chris to catch up... The tower scaffold arrived on Tuesday morning from The 14 locks centre. When unloading the van, we were amazed that it was brand sparkling new and were ashamed to get it dirty when erecting it into lock chamber to clear the vegetation on the lock walls. To get the water level lower, which would help us out for the next day’s pumping out, we dug a hole in the silt to create a sump. When lowering the water further, I uncov-
Tredegar Lock: uncovering the lower wing wall ered a mobile phone located under the bridge. After cleaning the memory card, I was able to obtain enough information to try and track down the owner to return it to them: due to the vast amount of data on there, I presume that they would appreciate this being returned! Whilst we were pumping out the lock, we encountered several setbacks with the pumps: the lay-flat hose slipping off the pump a couple of time due to the fixings; also the submersible pump being intermittent in operation; then later in the day the motor burned out. Work continued as previous around the site, but we had to make sure that at the end of each day, we removed the top sections of the tower scaffold to make it safe, as they have had previous experiences around this area of local people jumping onto the towers into the locks. When both sites met back at the accommodation, the Swansea group were well pleased to announce that they had been supplied with tea & cakes all day from the local residents, only to be ‘trumped’ by us on the Mon & Brec camp returning back with 3 cases of alcohol from a lovely trust member who, unfortunately is unable to work on the canal any longer due to illness; therefore this is their way of helping the work on the canal, which was well received and touched many hearts. A big thank you goes out to this person from our team. One of our Duke of Edinburgh Volunteers unfortunately had to return home this evening
due to his college exam paperwork being misdriving all week long to our sites. laid, so it had to be re-written very quickly. During the evening after dinner, we we On Wednesday we continued working as entertained by a quiz evening. We split up into before, with half of our camp working on the three groups, and were challenged by some hard Swansea Canal section and the other half work- questions, but we all managed to get some right! ing around Tredegar lock on the Mon & Brec On Friday morning, all of us were back Canal. The C-shape cross-section metal stopworking on The Mon & Brec Canal. Due to the plank channels were measured and the height water issue in Tredegar Lock, we arranged for was cut ready to be profiled the next day. one team to leave early whilst the washing up We finished camp today earlier than was being done, so we could prepare the site normal, due to pre-arranging a guided tour of ready for everyone else. Nick Farr volunteered the Fourteen Locks and Visitors Centre on the to strip down & wear one of the two leaking way back to the accommodation. This was waders to help me set up the tower scaffold greatly appreciated by most people to rejuvebefore we were able to get the water level low nate their energy levels on ‘hump day’ which is enough for people wearing Wellington boots to half way through the week! enter the water to work on the lock walls. This After the informative guided tour & show- worked out well, as we saved a hour of waiting ers, we were presented with a great helping of for the pump to get the water low enough, thank fish & chips for the evening dinner; we thank you Nick. the locals for paying for this. This was the only Whilst we were waiting for the water levels night that nobody could manage any second to drop in the lock chamber and the lime mortar portions due to being full. Normally there was a mix for the day to be made, a couple of people stampede for seconds for every meal, which helped clearing the vegetation around the lower shows they have all been working very hard all Draper’s lock. When the lime mortar arrived, we day! In the evening, several people took on the cleaned and lime mortared the stone joints of the challenge of playing Monopoly, which lasted bypass weir and the lower nearside wing wall, three days. which we have nearly finished, but left in a state On Thursday, we were continuing onwards ready for the locals to easily finish off filling. with the previous works explained before, The upper chamber stone work continued including, marking & cutting the profile of the with stones being cut and installed around the stonework into the C-section stop plank channewly constructed stop-plank channels. nels & then installing them into the upper lock We did not prepare lunch today & left the chamber ready for the stone work to be comsite at around 14:15 so we could have a late pleted around these the following day when we lunch at the accommodation before cleaning & would have more volunteers back from the checking off all of our kit and vans ready to Swansea Canal Site. leave for the next camp. During the daily pumping out & creating a After all of this was completed ready for sump of the lock chamber, I was able to uncover two metal bolts/ fixings from the original lock gates. After lunch, we experienced a lot of constant heavy rain, which made the site and ourselves very wet and slippery, so we left the site an hour earlier than normal for safety reasons. When we went to the showers, I unfortunately forgot to pack my shoes with me; Nick Farr kindly heart, he lent me one of his sandals. There we were, both hopping out of the Leisure Centre entrance in the rain towards the van, with several strange looks! I was just waiting for another van to arrive to put us in white suits! Thank you Completing stonework around the stop-plank channels once again, and for you and Hamon
could visit 14 locks and Phil a local volunteer took us on a guided tour of the site. The quiz on the Thursday night was enjoyed by all despite the serious bias towards science types on the camp. One downside to the camp was the distances that had to be travelled between the accommodation and the various sites and showers etc. this lead to many discussions as to the ideal route between them, clearly WRGies being WRGies, each opinion was firmly held and loudly insisted upon – a decision as to the ideal route has not been reached but apparently 1:4 gradients on single lane roads are not idea for fully laden WRG vans – wimps, say I. By the Friday evening almost all the site kit was packed and ready in the van before our celebratory meal so all that remained on Saturday morning as to get the accommodation kit packed up and the hall cleaned. This was all done and Martin was dispatched to collect Fred and at a little after 10 he duly arrived, it’s just a shame that Martin was still waiting for him at Newport and Fred had Finally let’s go back to Cath for a last word walked to the accommodation. At 10.30 both vans left the hall leaving Hamon and Ralph Swansea proved to be a fascinating site and to do the last bits of cleaning the hall. Ralph found local pottery, horseshoes and a All that remains now is for me to say a water bottle. The locals provided amazing few heartfelt thank yous – No. 1 to Hamon cakes to sustain the workers and everyone who his first assist and his leader is about as worked on the sight can now recognise much use as a chocolate fireguard , no. 2 to hogweed, knotweed and Himalayan balsam Chris he thought he was being a MUP and he and knows what to do with it too. Swansea ended up running one site; to Ayushi, Jane also brought interested and Elaine for diving locals out to investigate me around and helping what was happening in the accommodation; including two bloodto James for being told hounds and three horses. on camp that college Work continued at had lost his course a good pace on both work, going home and sites – despite leakage sorting it and then issues at Tredegar and returning to camp; and on the Friday we were to Nick and Hamon for all back at Tredegar lock doing all of the driving having seriously imof the vans. pressed the locals at And finally and I Swansea with the amount think most importantly of work we did in the to all of my volunteers time we had – especially for being such a great good considering they bunch and all getting only worked out we on and working well – were volunteers the I hope to see you all week before the camp. soon. We finished Cath Coolican Smith slightly early on the Chris Byrne Mortaring the joints in the bypass channel Wednesday so that we Hamon Stewart the morning, we went for our daily showers at the Leisure Centre, before having our last evening meal together. During which, several awards were handed out for outstanding work reasons including some comical ones! Several people went out this evening to the local pub that we have been frequenting, with the staff and locals thanking us for our achievements and wishing us back next year. Ralph Mills was fortunate to received three very old bottles that have been on display in the bar as a ‘thank you’ gesture from the landlady. On Saturday, we had our last breakfast together, sightly later than normal, then we cleaned all the accommodation & kitchenware before packing the vans for the final time. A big “thank you” goes out to all of our volunteers who were on this camp, as we could not of achieved this without you all. Due to this being my first ‘Official’ camp with WRG, I have just found out what I have been missing, the buzz and satisfaction that everyone gets with all the work that can be achieved in the short space of the camp. I am now addicted, so watch this space!
400 metres of towpath to lay, and the worst of the British ‘summer’ to contend with. Have NWPG bitten off more than they can chew? Bill Nicholson reports...
Camp Reports Wey & Arun Canal
two dumpers, a roller and 20 enthusiastic volunteers some entirely new to canal restoration, two of whom had travelled from New This was the 21st canal camp that has been South Wales and Eastern Scotland. As is organised by volunteers from the Newbury usual with Canal Camps we had a fine mix of Working Party Group (NWPG) in association youthful energy and mature stamina which with the WRG Canal Camps programme. was going to be essential in the ever lengthThis year we were supporting the Wey and ening days of the camp. Arun Canal Trust in their plan to open up a The ramp construction was a complex second restoration front on the Dunsfold affair involving first digging out the old Summit of the canal. Here the canal lies in a structure made up of some rather dubious shallow cutting alongside Dunsfold Aeroinfill supported by some equally dubious drome and comprises about 2km of potenconcrete panels held up by some scaffold tially navigable canal divided in the middle poles. Our new ramp was to comprise metal by a causeway that forms the southern acgabion baskets filled with crushed concrete cess to the airfield. erected to a plan drawn up by one of the Our job was to work on the northern Trust’s volunteer engineers. The job was 1km and to prepare the canal for use by a made more difficult by having to ensure that trip boat to be transferred from the navigable the ramp was at a minimum gradient and Loxwood Section of the canal, while the that it met the landing stage at bottom! What Trust’s other tripboat remains at Loxwood. we also rather underestimated was the Incidentally this would mean that the only amount of fill material that had to come out two canalside pubs on the canal would also before we could start the re-build. Moving be adjacent to public trip boat sites. The first material involves machines and machines of these trips is to take place at the aeroprefer dry conditions and here the great drome’s Wings and Wheels event on 25 – 27 British Summer of 2012 was not going to be August. No pressure then! helpful. The two main components of the work The landing stage sounded a relatively were to construct a ramp down to the towsimple job – until we thought about it in path from the Compasses Bridge causeway more detail. We had the plans and the mateand a landing stage from where passengers would embark. Other tasks allocated to us were to level and surface a 400m length of narrow and undulating towpath as far as Farnhurst Bridge; to construct a silt trap in a stream that feeds water (and silt!) into the canal and to replace fencing at the causeway. Running concurrently with our volunteer work, a supporter of the Trust provided a long reach excavator and driver to dredge the section above the bridge where silt was all but blocking the navigation. To assist our efforts we had Constructing the ramp the use of two tracked excavators, All pictures by Bill NIcholson
Wey and Arun Canal Camp 2012-05: 30 June – 6 July
rials – the latter being black plastic wood that towpath had been levelled and a clear deciactually looks much better than it sounds as sion made not to attempt re-surfacing until well as having the advantage of not rotting. drier weather. The fence, silt trap and the Putting it up was more difficult - in particular land drains were in place and finished. A late driving the front supporting posts into the evening session followed – everyone was canal whilst trying to keep them vertical in determined to see their part of the project two planes. We decided to build a timber completed. Straight to bed! frame through which the posts were driven Friday – the final day and more rain. by hand by volunteers standing on the Canal We ignored it! By 7.30pm both the ramp and Trust’s “Aquadock” floating platform assemthe landing stage were finished ready for the bly. This was successful although driving all first passengers to embark and the canal the posts took a long time. Another difficulty cleared to cruise north to Fastbridge. By was bolting the structure together where half 9.00pm about a quarter of the earth pile had of the bolt holes are under water – also been distributed across the field with the cutting and drilling the plastic – tough stuff. remainder by midday on the following SaturOn the bank much further excavation was day. The successful end result was the result required to bring the towpath down to the of real team effort with everyone (Sue our level of the landing stage. cook included) working at 150%. Towpath clearance and subsequent We won’t learn. No doubt next year levelling was the first job. Fine for the first we’ll do the same again. Thank you! two days until the rain started to penetrate to Bill Nicholson clay and turn the surface into a skating rink. NWPG Camp Leader This involved more digging out than had been anticipated due mainly to the undulations and the need to create a wide enough track along which a 3 ton dumper could be driven to deliver the new Type 1 surface. It’s also necessary to re-surface from the furthest point and to work back to the start so that you don’t track vehicles over your newly laid towpath. 400 metres is a long way and it was clear that the conditions and the number of available volunteers was going to mean that this job would not be finished. We also had to install some land drains alongside and across the new path to take water running off the airfield into the canal Assembling the landing stage and delivering it to site and not onto the towpath. By Thursday morning it was looking like this time we had really taken on far too big a task for the conditions. Would any of the three main jobs get completed? What were we going to do with the huge spoil heap on the airfield? Would it ever stop raining long enough for the ground to dry out? Then the sun came out for a day and our spirits revived. The gabions filled faster and the surfaced ramp started its decent from the causeway. The posts were in for the landing stage and the cross supports were being positioned. The
“you can’t sack a volunteer but you can certainly bollock them for doing something that’s stupid” - forthright words from Mick Beattie
WRG at 40
Forty views for forty years
40 Views for 40 Years The 15th 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. I’d been looking forward to interviewing Mick Beattie – many of the interviewees had referred to him and I had a lot of questions. Fortunately I had a lot of time and a lot of space on the memory card, and fortunately Mick’s wife is a dab hand with providing tea. Let’s meet the real Mick Beattie.
All pictures by Martin Ludgate
Q: How and when did you first get involved with canal restoration? A: My first wife: Sue Beattie (all my wives are called Sue Beattie) she had to do her Duke of Edinburgh award scheme and we’d not been married 12 months. She got leaflets for all sorts of things: cathedral camps was one of them, the National Trust was another and Waterway Recovery Group was. The cover of the Canal Camps brochure was a photograph of some dumpers inside a lock chamber; I said if we’re going to have to do something then that’s what we’re going to do. We booked to go on a canal camp which was the Pocklington Canal in 1987 and Neil Edwards was the camp leader. We got there at the weekend and WRG North-West were sort of like setting it up – John Palmer was there: incredible beard, no teeth (well one tooth). We started to do the canal camp and they were clearing out a lock chamber they were going to demolish and they had a pump. It was pumping the lock chamber out and it was running all day and the water level wasn’t dropping. I could see this and everyone else was wading around in the mud and I thought “I’m not going to do that”. AJ [Alan Jervis, then WRG Chairman] came down and he asked me what I was doing and I said “I’m sitting here having a fag, and then I’m going to go over there and have a fag. And then I might go for a walk somewhere else and have another cigarette”. He said “well are you a volunteer?” and I said “I am a volunteer”. He said “why aren’t you doing any work?” And I said “I’ll start doing some work when that pump starts pumping the water out”. He said “the pump’s pumping it out” and I said “it’s pumping water but it’s obviously coming in as quick as it’s going out”. We then went off and got a bigger pump and that sorted it out and it kind of snow balled from there. My wife then started to do catering for the canal camps (in the summer), I was an assistant leader at the Christmas canal camp on the Mont. Then I was leading canal camps and weekends and things. Kind of fell into it. WRG at the time was, like it is now, very cliquey and I had different views. There was a lot of colourful characters – mainly weirdos. We didn’t fit in with that, me and a few others of a similar age, we wanted to do what we wanted to do with WRG. Q: What was your motivation for coming back after that first week? A: I enjoyed the company, I enjoyed the laugh and the engineering. I worked for building and civil engineering, I’d done that sort of work before and it was like you could help out, you could get a buzz from. It gave me and my wife something to do together. Only she stopped doing it and I started doing other people so that was then a bit of a problem.
Q: Neil Edwards talks about you having a big impact on that first week – was it just the pump? A: The pump wasn’t right. But it seemed they wanted to have a late breakfast, make lunch and then potter down to site late morning, then start the pump and then have lunch. Then do a little bit and go back for tea. There was nothing really happening. I was willing to help out and Neil was willing to listen.
AJ turned up, and he turned up in a Land Rover (I’ve always had a thing about Land Rovers) which was SMB. I wasn’t allowed to drive the WRG vehicles because you had to be 25. I’d seen how they drove the vehicles and I thought “this isn’t good”. They couldn’t reverse vans or even go forwards in them. Then AJ turned up (another guy with a beard) and he said “you can drive it”. I said “I’m not allowed to”. And he said “you can if the chairman gives you permission”. And I said “where’s he sat? on his fat arse in London?”. And he said “no, he’s sat here talking to you”. I drove the Land Rover and I thought “there’s potential here”. We got Pocklington sorted out so after the first week it was heading in the right direction. Importance of training: Mick teaches WRG H&S
Q: How did Logistics come about? A: They were trying to get us something to do and the kit wasn’t really looked after – it was very ad-hoc. A lot of the equipment was old and second-hand and shit. The canal camps used to borrow North-West’s equipment even though the camps had some of their own – it was a lot poorer condition. I remember speaking to Neil about ways we could do things better and make it more organised; checking kit in was a nightmare. I’ve always been one where you can have lots of bits of equipment but they’re all in the same colour scheme – I always think that looks great. I remember AJ said “you’re going to be in charge of logistics” and I remember I had to go home and look it up in the dictionary. We accepted it but we didn’t know what we’d accepted. We built it all up and Carolyn Smith wrote the first spreadsheet with the camps kit list. We decided we’d start at Kit A at numbers 1 and 2 and B would be 3 and 4 (C 5 and 6). All the tools were numbers 700 onwards. From that a baking tin in A was the same as a baking tin in B apart from the first digit – it wasn’t that we could remember entire kits. We got grants and we managed to persuade people to buy us things and improved the quality of the equipment. We used to do all of that from a shed in my back garden [Blackpool].
Q: What the most outrageous thing you bought? A: I was specifically told by the WRG board not to buy a griddle for Kit A. I’d always wanted a griddle having made love to a woman called Pauline Tiernan who was the landlady of a pub in Blackpool and she had griddle in the kitchen. I’ve always had a thing for griddles – I just think they’re brilliant for cooking on and brilliant for making love on. What they didn’t do was mention that I couldn’t buy a griddle for any other kit – so we bought one for kit B. It was a fantastic success. So much so that we said whoever’s up first can cook breakfast and we had breakfast being cooked at like 1 o’clock in the morning. I remember Just Jen making pancakes where she made a huge vat of pancake mix and was making pancakes the size of the griddle. One of the griddles was engraved with “To the memory of Pauline Tiernan”.
Q: Toasters – can we talk about Bill Crockett? A: Bill had a thing about the toasters. I had a lot of time for Bill because he was a lot older than everybody else and he could fit in. He didn’t want everybody else to go to his way of being. He got the craic and he could give as good as he got. He knew that one way to wind me up was my pet hate of people who would knacker the toasters in by jamming something into the slot and then cremating it and then trying to dig out the remains with a knife. We used to change the elements on the toasters like there was no tomorrow. Bill said he was going to develop a recipe book for things you can cook in a toaster – the first thing he said was “Stand it on its end...” I remember we were at Worcester and he was quite pissed – he was discussing when during the war ladies used to wear very long legged knickers and how he used to get his wrist watch caught in the elastic. He was a lovely man and he was a good laugh. At that accommodation there was a balcony and Jude had parked her new car under the balcony and Bill vomited but to keep good manners he decided to do it over the wall... all over Jude’s car.
Q: When did the trailers first come into existence? A: I went to pick up a van on the Montgomery and John Baylis had left the van there and on the back of
the van was a trailer – a twin axle trailer horsebox. Before that we’d had a single axle ex-sheep box that was all rotten and a bit crappy. There was a note in the van saying “Mick – if this is any good take it with you – if you don’t want it unhook it and leave it here”. I thought – I’ll have that. We used to rebuild the trailers and fit them out so they could carry all the equipment. I always believed you could make it easier for people. I always maintained that if the kit went out looking good then you were in with a chance of getting it back looking good. I remember once that Leo Stapleton (as she was then) complained that we’d sent equipment out but it wasn’t sharp. So with the next camp we sharpened everything – that was Tenko’s idea – I can blame him because he’s dead; we sharpened the shovels, the mattocks – everything was like you could shave with it. We got a bit of a bollocking for doing that. They [a camp] rang us up drunk once from the Montgomery to complain about the state of the equipment, about how the paint had come off the catering equipment and how funny it was – we could hear them all laughing. I put the phone down and rang up the rest of logistics (Nick Smith, Tenko), “What you doing tomorrow night?” They said “Nothing” so I said “We’re going down the Montgomery” – they were at West Felton. We went – all of us, with the paint and with the brushes and just as they were preparing the food we got every plate, every mug, every knife, fork, spoon and repainted the f**king lot. They came off site and we explained that they’d phoned up logistics and complained so we’d come and repainted – not a problem. I think it’s from them that we got the reputation of generally not giving a shit. All the fridges were painted, all in the kit colours. Greg Driver (from the Lancaster Trust) had rung me up and he had a fridge there and he said “what colour do you want it?” I said “I don’t give a f**k what colour you paint it” and he painted it bright pink with coloured dots on it. That went round the canal circuit for years – I just think that sort of thing’s amusing. We once walked down the Montgomery Canal, they were having a canal camp and they were abusing the equipment. Tenko [Dave Johnson] just walked along – “excuse me, could I just have that shovel and that mattock”. He collected everything back together again, put it in the trailer and then put his own padlock on the trailer. He said “you’re not fit to have it so you’re not having it” and that was it. We took pride in the equipment and we like to think it all helped for the image and the professionalism. There was a lot of work - we used to have a meeting one night every week, logistics used to get together. We had a 16 foot by 8 shed in my garden that was always full of tools being repaired. After the camps season we used to give it all a blitz but during the season we’d always have a rolling programme. Then every other night I’d be in the shed doing something. My lodgers used to get roped into doing it. I don’t think people fully appreciated how much effort had to go into just keeping it up to a standard. We did take exception when people abused it – if something gets worn out or broken because of a genuine accident, that’s fine. We got a trailer back once, they’d put it next to the mixer and it had flicked mortar which had then set. At the end of the week they realised – they’d said “Logistics are going to come down themselves to pick this trailer up – Mick’s going to go off his head”. The only way they could clean it off was to use a pan scourer on it, which did take it off but it also took all the paint off with it. You just think it’s not on. I say if somebody did something like that then they should get should get their arses kicked. And I did say it - which doesn’t make you popular. AJ once said to me “you can’t sack a volunteer” and you can’t sack a volunteer but you can certainly bollock them for doing something that’s stupid – so we did.
Q: Is it true that the keys to your house were in the garage which was padlocked with a WRG key so that anyone could get in? A: Yeah – there was a key to the back door and the garage door used to have a WRG padlock on it. People used to come in. One of my sisters left her husband and was living at my house, I remember she said to me “I love you to bits but I’m going to have to move out because I can’t stand your lifestyle. It’s not just you – it’s everybody around you. People call in at 11 o’clock at night for a coffee because they’re driving past”. I was away and she was sat in the living room in her dressing gown and somebody just unlocked the back door and came in “All right – is Mick in?”. No – she said [nervously] – pulling her dressing gown tighter to her neck. “Oh ok – I’ll just get a brew – do you want one?”
Q: Whose idea was it to put holes in the cutlery? A: We painted the cutlery and it was always an arse and it was always coming off in the food. We used to get complaints from the cooks about the paint coming off. But by that time we’d kind of developed this reputation for being quite fiery so I think a lot of people put up having with paint in their food and not wanting to mention it to us. I was trying to think of a way that we could mark it to identify which kit it was from and easily, readily identify. Because what people used to do before the gear was readily identifiable was they used to send back the better equipment from the village hall – we once got back a brand new fridge. My dad
had a set of keys and his keys were drilled. I thought – that’s brilliant.
Q: When you labelled the whisk – “this is not a sex toy” had there been circumstances to suggest that it had, indeed, been used as a sex toy? When we were engraving the equipment we would have been engraving hundreds and hundreds of items in one session. You’d just dick about – you’d be writing “WRG kit A” on everything and you just get bored. We thought we’d write stuff on odd pieces of equipment and see what we’d get away with. There was a bottle opener that had on it “congratulations, you’ve found this piece of equipment – present this corkscrew to Mike Palmer for a free bottle of wine”. So it probably had been used a sex toy but it wasn’t by me. The griddle was – the whisk wasn’t. It was just out of devilment, the more it went on and the more successful we became and the reputation we developed (it was other people giving us the reputation) – we never actually hit anyone, we never actually really threatened anyone. We used to frighten people to death but that was the reputation that went before us. It was reputation we got but I thought it was completely unfounded.
Q: Who were Navvies Anonymous? A: We set up our own group: the group was formed of people who didn’t fit in with the then clique of Waterway Recovery Group. We weren’t the ones who’d been doing it since the ’70s and we didn’t wear woolly hats. Some of them, like Spencer Collins, weren’t able to grow a beard anyway even if he wanted to. We formed a group that was called the Flying Squad. AJ said you can’t have the name Flying Squad because it smacks of football hooliganism. He said we could have any name we want but not Flying Squad. So we said we’ll have any name we want but we’ll just remain anonymous.
Q: What kind of work did that group do? A: First of all we were very interested to do anything that involved plant – we wanted to do things where if somebody said “it can’t be done” then we were interested in doing it. We did have a point to make, to prove that we knew better that they did. All these people with the years of experience said “you can’t do it” and we used to go and do it. We used to work hard and play hard. The WRG hierarchy had taken exception to certain societies for political reasons. Back then the waterway restoration movement was very political with different groups fighting against each other. There was a lot of bitterness. We were told, as representatives of Waterway Recovery Group, that we weren’t to go and work for certain societies because those societies weren’t deemed to be good enough and not doing the waterways restoration movement, as a whole, any good. Those are the ones we went to do work for. Then the work was deemed as a success and then these societies that had been ostracised were in the limelight as being successful and that was down to us – that then annoyed people even more. It was never meant to be personal – it was just proving a point. From the onset we were told “you can’t do this, and you can’t do that, we’ve been doing it for so many years and we know better than you and you’re a load of new people and this is nothing to do with you – and you should be grateful that we let you come along”. We saw WRG as being something that was ours as well. I think we did a good job, we annoyed a lot of people but we did a lot of good. I wrote an article about Alan Thorpe where we started off the thing FAT which was the ‘Friends of Alan Thorpe’ where we raised money for Alan to have a Braille computer. Because it was us doing it and because we did have a reputation – we frightened lots of people – we got what we wanted. We raised so much money that we bought Alan everything you could possibly have when you’re blind. On the flip side of that we did the EAT campaign which was the ‘Enemies of Alan Thorpe’, which again, we raised a load more money with that. I had a lot of time for Alan; people whinge about things generally in life but Alan didn’t. He was blind, out of all of us he had more to complain about and he never did. I had a lot of respect for that. What Alan said to me was “I really like being out with you because you’re the only people in my entire life who treat me like you would treat anyone else”. I remember Tenko got his name, Spencer Collins called him Tenko because he took his t-shirt off the first time he came out with us. He was from the National Trust; I’d been seconded to drive a minibus for the National Trust, they were having a big reunion dig – Neil Edwards was driving one, we were lending them two and I had to drive the other. Tenko was there driving a minibus and all the drivers were all together whilst the volunteers were off and I was sat there and he come over talking to me. He said “you don’t seem very impressed” and I said “no – it’s not right – I run a group that is out restoring canals. You think these lot are wild, you think this lot play hard and live hard – you’ve seen f**k all. My boys and girls are 100 times f**king more extreme than these will ever be”. Then he came along to a weekend at Bugsworth Basin, as I
say, when he took his t-shirt off you could see all his ribs and that’s when Spence went ‘haaaahhaaa - Tenko’. That was it – that was his name and that’s where it came from. When he died I found out he’d actually turned up the weekend before and in all the years I knew him he never actually admitted that – that he’d got the dates wrong. Keith and Penny Vigers – they told me. “Why didn’t you tell me when he was alive because I’d have had so much fun taking the piss”. That’s it – we used to take the piss. With Thorpey we called him Blind Pew and I remember it was me mother who said “why do you call him Blind Pew?” – “cos he’s blind”. And she went “that’s sick, that is – you are – how can you say that?” Well he is. He would get up in the middle of the night and walk across the village hall without tripping over anything because being dark was not a Mick gets a rough ride at the Huddersdield National disadvantage to him. He’d walk across zig zagging between people’s bed, chairs and tables. One night when he did that, when he was in the loo we moved every item of furniture in the hall and he came back in and he went absolutely head first over everything. I remember Spence going “can you not feel where you’re going?” I had a lot of time for Alan Thorpe – a lovely man. We were honest with him and he liked it. That sort of stuff I miss. I miss the friendship of people like him. I really miss Tenko – to this day I miss Tenko. I liked him because he was very definite in his opinions. We used to do the weekends, we were then specifically told we weren’t allowed to organise a canal camp that was just a Navvies Anonymous canal camp. If we were to do a week it had to be open to everyone. But because places were limited we could fill a canal camp with Navvies Anonymous and we used to just accept one or two new people just as a token gesture. Then we’d get a reputation of leading a very good canal camp and having a really good time and actually achieving things. Our canal camps became very popular and I led some of the big canal camps. We’d go all over.
Q: Were you on the WRG board? A: I still am! We wanted to get more say over what happened with the organisation – we believed it was our organisation as well. Not to diminish what anybody else was doing in the organisation, we – as in the NA and logistics (we were the ones people were talking about – we were winning awards – several awards for projects that we took on and actively managed, we were at the cutting edge of doing things in a professional way) – we felt we weren’t given a say. People forget how it used to be. T-shirts – they were available in red and that was it. We were told you can’t have any other colour. We did black t-shirts and they sold like hot cakes. Years later – after I’d mellowed and there’d been a change at the very, very top – I was invited onto the board and I’m still there. Although I’m not.
Q: National Waterways Festivals – what do you remember of them? A: I led the camp at Salford Quays and I led that because WRG, at the time, felt they were getting a bit messed about by Waterways Festivals and they wanted to put somebody in who they knew had a reputation for not suffering fools gladly. The leaders of the National were a select group – they were always the same people. Nationals were a different camp to lead - I’d never been on that side of it. WRG asked me if I would lead it and I said I’d do it but I’m not leading it on my own and I don’t want an assistant – I want two leaders – and that was Jude Palmer. We put the moorings in at Worcester which was something different. I didn’t want to lead the National, they’d asked me if I would lead it and I said “No - I want to do something different”. We did the moorings on the river, it was just driving big machines and putting a load of stone in. I read Bungle’s [interview] where he said about the last mooring, that I’d said seeing as it’s the last one we’ll put a nice curvy path down to it – I’d forgotten about that. We did a good job, it looked neat and tidy, people didn’t believe it was done by volunteers. I remember AJ talking once on an interview, where he was getting over the point that voluntary labour
is not necessarily amateurish (even though it’s done by amateurs as in they’re not getting paid for it). AJ used the term “it’s not chewing gum and plywood”. That’s the mindset that I wanted to have. If somebody’s doing a job you should explain to them what you want them to do. Give them the tools and equipment to do the job, and train them how to do it and give them encouragement and particularly praise if they do it right. When I did canals I could see that people were ballsing things up and doing a really shitty, shoddy job and they’d get thanked for it – then the next week somebody would come and take that down and do it again but that could be going on for months that. I didn’t want that, the volunteers should be able to do it right and then go away with the skill having learnt something.
Q: Health & Safety (the safety talk in particular) - what things did you introduce or have an input to?
A: I come from a background of building and civil engineering and I couldn’t believe how the organisation was very much ad-hoc – go the pub at lunchtime and have a few pints – that sort of stuff. That was the way it was. I thought people can have a professional attitude towards it and part of that is doing it safely and having the right PPE. People switch off and there’s ways of talking when you’re doing a safety talk and making it interesting. We always said a way forward would be to get it filmed and get people doing things not necessarily right and then you can see and it can be pointed out that you shouldn’t do this and whatever. But try and make it interesting and make it humorous. The thing about WRG is the humour: if it’s not fun people are not going to do it. I was always bleating on about that we should do some training, it was the board meeting (after the WRG meeting) that said “If Mick Beattie’s that keen on bloody training he should do some bloody training”. I heard that and I thought “That’s an instruction to arrange a training weekend”. We would get machinery in and we would train people to do it. We set out with what our minimum standard was and I always maintained that if someone wanted to be an instructor for something they needed to demonstrate very high levels of skill. You don’t want somebody training who can’t really do it themselves. We trained people to operate machinery and drive the vans properly and reverse trailers. When I taught AJ how to tow a trailer he said “I’m all right going forwards I just can’t go backwards”. Going forwards isn’t exactly difficult – it’s just going to f**king follow you. None of that - the training weekends – was there. It was brought in because we believed in taking it seriously and having a benchmark. If you can’t pass that criterion to demonstrate that you can do something then you shouldn’t be doing it. We were always willing to take time out to get people to the minimum standards.
Q: What are you most proud of? A: It’s a number of things. Logistics is one ‘cos that was something that wasn’t there. The training and people coming away from canal camps having learned something. I think, in our own way, we did raise the bar on canal camps and what went on on a canal camp. You’d get up in the morning and everyone on the camp was on the rota for doing stuff. We never had any exceptions, there was nobody too good to be doing something. We used to do social activities in the evening. Whilst I used to drink a lot, and I used to drink a lot of Pernod, when I started, going to the pub in the evening was the option – you either did nothing or you went to the pub. Volunteers with very limited resources didn’t want to go to the pub in the evening but they’d like to socialise. I wanted to do things where they could do something in the evening that was socialising. I always thought that if they could write home to their family on a postcard and say “we did this and this” then it was a lot better. We did treasure hunts. The local societies asked us to come down and do the work, because of that I then thought “We’ve got a hold over these societies. You want me to come down, we will do the job but we want stuff from you as well – we want you to do a talk on our first night and I want members of your society there – I don’t just want one person – I want loads of people! These people have come hundreds of miles: the least you can do is come and meet them. On the last night I want you to do a barbecue and your society will be there and you can tell my lot how good they are!” We would organise a treasure hunt which we would, on the first night, go out with some of the locals to find places of interest ’cos they know the area. By doing a treasure hunt we’d get everybody to go and see different bits. We’d write these clues and they were photocopied up. There was a prize – the local society would donate a prize. I’m not competitive as such, I wanted it not to be an individual effort but teams. It was compulsory that everybody joined in. I remember one time we had Roger Burchett [grumbling] “...not f**king doing f**king treasure hunt...” and I was “you are” and he went out and did it and had a whale of a time.
Q: What would you say WRG’s greatest achievement was? A: Raising the perception of voluntary labour to a more professional standard from a lot of weirdy beardy people with woolly hats who piss about trying to restore canals. From anoraks to a group of people who can drive machinery and take it very seriously with the training, bringing young people in and involving people. When I started with WRG you wouldn’t be allowed to drive a dumper until you’d been out with a group for five years until you were sensible. I used to let anybody drive; if you drive and I think you’re a dickhead, you won’t be driving for long because I’ll stop you doing it. It was that attitude of letting people have a go that you discovered some people have a natural skill and ability to be able to do it. One of those that sticks with me is ‘Butch’ Rachel [Parr]. She turned up and wanted to drive the machine and I let her have a go. She was a natural, an absolute natural.
Q: Spencer Greystrong mentioned you in his interview A: Spencer Greystrong – what about him? I liked him. He turned up and he was, I don’t know, sort of older and he was like a f**king bank manager. He was like a fish out of water with us – we were smoking and swearing and drinking and shagging and just behaving badly. But he kind of like fitted in with us – it was bizarre. He accepted us for being us and he wanted to get involved and be part of it.
Q: Who has inspired you? A: Neil Edwards for one. Neil was really the first politician I’d come across. If somebody said something to him or told him something he would interpret what they’d told him, not necessarily in the way he knew that they’d meant it, but in the actual way they’d said it. An incredible vision in the way forward for the organisation. When he took over canal camps from WRG work camps, he was the one who changed the name to ‘canal camps’ and there was huge resistance to that. I started maybe a few years after that and they were still reeling with it. And the first person I ever came across who didn’t have a telly. Alan Thorpe because of the way he never whinged about stuff. Lots and lots of people – I’ve met some really wonderful people. Brian Saunders – he was one.
Q: Is there anything you felt didn’t go right or do you have any regrets from Navvies Anonymous days? A: On one hand I’m glad I did it because of the experience of doing stuff but on the other if I had my time again I wouldn’t have done it. The drinking and all that cost me my first marriage – it was solely down to me and the way I was behaving but nobody explained to me that I shouldn’t really be doing that. I’m very happy and content with life but I did my first wife a huge injustice. That’s not down to WRG but down to the fact that WRG would let that go on. That was the way it was – I knew with WRG that if I carried on doing it I’d have ended up dead. It was not doing me any good and I needed to get out of it - it can take over your life. We did do some good stuff and it’s nice to look back on. It wasn’t wasted years but maybe it was misspent. I don’t think I’m the person people think I actually am, I read things that people write and they have this image of you – the earrings and the tattoos. People still get it wrong – they don’t see it for what it is.
Q: Do you have a favourite derelict canal? A: The Lancaster Canal – the Northern Reaches. My favourite place of all is Sedgwick Aqueduct.
Q: What is your classic “Do you remember the time...” story? A: It was at Salford National and Moore Flannery was on the PA and we were trying our hardest to get her to say things you shouldn’t say on the PA and we were failing miserably. She was very pleased with the fact that she was cleverer than us. And then it came over the PA and it said “got a message here for Mr Jars – a Mr Hugh Jars – oh for f**ks sake”. Which was brilliant! Helen Gardner
Favourite site: Sedgwick Aqueduct
Navvies diary Your guide to all the forthcoming work parties Aug 18 Sat IWA Stoke 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 Sep 8/9 KESCRG Sep 8/9 wrgNW Sep 18 Tue IWA Stoke Sep 15/16 wrgBITM Sep 15/16 NWPG Sep 23 Sun WRG Sep 29/30 London WRG Sep 29 Sat wrgNW Oct 5-15 Extra Camp Oct 6/7 KESCRG Oct 6/7 Essex WRG Oct 6/7 wrgNW Oct 13/14 wrgBITM
Cheshire Locks Work Party, Trent & Mersey Canal. 10am to 4pm. Chesterfield Canal Thames & Severn Canal (Cotswold Canals) Montgomery Canal - CANCELLED Chesterfield Canal Thames & Severn Canal (Cotswold Canals) Montgomery Canal - CANCELLED POSTPONED: Changed to Sep 15/16 Wilts & Berks Canal: Dauntsey Lichfield Canal: Joint dig with wrgNW & KESCRG Lichfield Canal: Joint dig with London WRG and wrgNW Lichfield Canal: Joint dig with London WRG & KESCRG Cheshire Locks Work Party, Trent & Mersey Canal. 10am to 4pm. Oxford Canal Bridges: Preparation for a Camp to repair parapets after con Thames & Severn Canal: Bricklaying at either Eisey or Inglesham Locks Committee & Board Meetings: Rowington Thames & Severn Canal: Inglesham ‘Paper Chase’ waste paper collection Oxford Canal Bridge 79 or 80: north of Braunston. Provisional. Heritag Thames & Severn Canal: Inglesham Lock. Accom at Kempsford VH To be arranged Hollinwood Canal: Ashton/Droylsden section (provisional) Stover Canal: Excavating, concreting, etc. Urgent work to build a walkw Newton Abbot. See Navvies News Oct 13-14 IWA Manchester Ashton Canal: Ashtac anniversary cleanup at Dukinfield. See pages 4-5 Oct 20/21 London WRG Somersetshire Coal Canal Oct 20-27 WRG Forestry Uttoxeter Canal Oct 27-Nov 3 Camp 201226 Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation Nov 10/11 Essex WRG Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation Nov 3 Sat wrgNW ‘Paper Chase’ waste paper collection Nov 10/11 WRG Bonfire Bash (WRG Reunion): Location to be arranged Nov 10/11 London WRG WRG Reunion Nov 10/11 KESCRG WRG Reunion Nov 10/11 NWPG Basingstoke Canal: Bank clearance Nov 10/11 wrgNW Grantham Canal Nov 10 Sat WRG Committee & Board Meetings: Bonfire Bash Location TBC Nov 17/18 wrgBITM Somersetshire Coal Canal Dec 1/2 London WRG Caldon & Uttoxeter Canals: Xmas party joint dig with KESCRG Dec 1/2 KESCRG Caldon & Uttoxeter Canals: Xmas Party joint dig with London WRG
For details of diary dates beyond the end of this list ple
Canal Camps cost £56 per week unless otherwise stated. Bookings for WRG Camps identified by a camp number e.g. 'Camp 201220' should go to WRG Canal Camps, Island House, Moor Road, Chesham HP5 1WA. Tel: 01494 783453, firstname.lastname@example.org. Diary compiled by Dave Wedd. Tel: 01252 874437, email@example.com Alison Smedley
Bill Nicholson Frank Wallder Tim Lewis Bobby Silverwood David McCarthy Alison Smedley tractors repair arch. Dave Wedd s Bill Nicholson Mike Palmer Tim Lewis David McCarthy e bricklaying. See ‘Coming Soon’, pages 4-5 Bobby Silverwood Frank Wallder David McCarthy way at Jetty Marsh, Dave Wedd
Alison Smedley Tim Lewis Clive Alderman
01538 385388 01494-783453 01494-783453 01494-783453 01494-783453 01494-783453 01494-783453 01844-343369 01992-636164 07802-518094 07971-814986 0161-740-2179 01538 385388 01252-874437 01844-343369 01564-785293 07802-518094 0161-740-2179 01494-783453 07971-814986 01992-636164 0161-740-2179 01252-874437
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 bookings@wrgBITM.org.uk email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com
01538 385388 07802-518094
firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org
Frank Wallder David McCarthy
01494-783453 01992-636164 0161-740-2179
Tim Lewis Bobby Silverwood Bill Nicholson David McCarthy Mike Palmer Dave Wedd Tim Lewis Bobby Silverwood
07802-518094 07971-814986 01844-343369 0161-740-2179 01564-785293 01252-874437 07802-518094 07971-814986
email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org bookings@wrgBITM.org.uk
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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
WRG’s own boat club’s members are heading for the Montgomery Canal, blacking their bottoms, and supporting a runner in the Great North Run WRG Boat Club News Well, as I said in the last issue, this is the year of changed plans. The biggest of all is the change from planning for drought to dealing with flooding. Oh the joys of being British - I think I saw someone starting to build an ark while we were boating in the Peak Forest area. Those at Middlewich Folk & Boat Festival experienced the joys of coping with the rain, but I understand that there were still crowds out and about and WRG NW did well. We were tempted to hold the AGM at Middlewich as so many club members would be there but decided to have it on ‘The Mont’ and hopefully encourage members to boat there and for the club to show support for the restoration. I have recently had cause to travel by train rather a lot (van broken and it taking an age to get the parts) this does give a chance to do a lot of reading and I have just re read a booklet published in 1980 The Montgomery Canal: its History and Restoration. It tells how in October 1969 about 200 volunteers started work on the Welshpool section. There is a postscript written in February 1982 saying that work at Frankton was going well and three out of the four locks were nearly complete. That’s 30 years ago! It really brings home the time and effort so many have put in and the constant stream of obstacles that have to be overcome. Such a variety of tasks and supporters, even Prince Charles taking part - hmm do you think I should send him a membership application?
Notice of AGM The Boat Club’s Annual General Meeting will be held at some time during the Maesbury Festival on the Montgomery Canal over the weekend of 1st & 2nd of September, the precise time and venue to be decided once
Boat Club News we are there. (It will need to be fitted around any work being done). Please let me know of:
. . . .
Anything you want included in the agenda Any nominations for officers, Any suggestions for where you want any donations we can make to go Any suggestions for any activities for next year.
I know quite a few members are involved with London volunteering but, any others,if you can come and give support please do. By the time you receive this, please note, YOUR SUBS ARE DUE! If you don’t yet pay by standing order please consider it and ask me for a form. Also by the time you read this British Waterways will be no more and we will all be in the CaRT with the new Canal & River Trust. Will we notice I wonder? There will have been some ‘launch parties’ and I have already, in June, seen the new logo being used. Member Chris Morgan gained a place in ‘The Great North Run’ in Newcastle on 16th September. He is dedicating his run to the late BCNS Chairman Graham Whorton and will be raising awareness and funds for Prostate Cancer. If anyone would like to sponsor him please send cheque payable to ‘Prostate Cancer’ to his home address - 32 St Davids Drive, Machen, Caerphilly CF83 8RH or see him on NB Bogwoppit. I have ordered new burgees and Julian will be delivering them to me when we are on dock at Stourbridge blacking bottoms - of boats. Quick buy yours now before I get bitumen on them. A bargain at still only £10. Hope to see lots of you soon. Fly the flag and display the stickers! xxx Sadie Heritage firstname.lastname@example.org
Our regular roundup of restoration progress around the country begins this time on the River Gipping or Ipswich & Stowmarket Navigation
(native oak) on a visit to the supplier and this is now milled to size and ready for marking up and for work on the structure to start off site. With all this going on, there will be plenty of work to keep us busy well into the future. Martin Bird Restoration Manager River Gipping trust
Pictures by River Gipping Trust
The River Gipping Trustâ€™s volunteers are now nearing the end of the first phase of our work at Pipps Ford Lock on the River Gipping. We have a couple of courses of brickwork to complete on the fourth spandrel wall of the accommodation bridge, and then we will just need to complete some backfilling and work to the handrail to finish the job on the bridge itself. Luckily we have been able to maintain momentum despite the changeable weather through late spring when we had torrential rain and flooding of the site on days either side of our work parties. We have more work to do at Pipps Ford later in the year. While working on the bridge we realised that we could still trace the original bywash channel and the site of a former bridge abandoned during some repair works carried out about 15 years ago. We are now hoping to restore this feature of the lock, but will need an additional approval from the Environment Agency before we can go ahead. So far the response from the EA has been enWork on the handrails at Pipps Ford accommodation couraging. bridge and (below) repairs still needed to the wall Our work at Baylham Mill further downstream continues as we rebuild the paved bankside area below the bridge. We have been working here on Saturdays only, so progress has been slower, but with the completion of the work at Pipps Ford we should pick up speed again . The sluice gate project for Baylham is progressing. A group of us chose the timber
...then it’s off to the Wendover where they’ve come up with a new technique for re-lining their canal...
On the May & June Working Parties the Wendover Arm Trust volunteers continued to make good progress with the work to create a waterproof channel to replace the original – which leaked so badly that the canal was closed and the water supply that it carried to the Grand Union main line was piped. These two working parties saw bank lining completed up to the start of the Stage 2 mooring wall despite some of the worst weather conditions we have met over our years of restoration. The photos show a new technique in use for the banks. The newly-designed frame for placing spoil above coir rolls is placed (using lifting slings on the excavator bucket) with one side resting on the finished bank and the other side on a temporary coir roll placed vertically as we used to do. The excavator then fills and consolidates the spoil to the required depth. [top picture] A deep board across the bottom nearly eliminates the loss of spoil falling down onto the bed. On completion of a section the frame and coir roll are moved forward for filling the next section. [centre picture] Once the frame has been moved the excavator does a final trim of the new bank [bottom picture]; some hand trimming is necessary at the top of the bank before moving on to fill the next section. The success of this method was demonstrated by the completion of 33 metres of bank in one day – if we complete the length of lining to the Tring end of the Stage 2 mooring wall in August, this could see lining up to Bridge 4A completed in a further 42 fine working party days, by spring 2013 at the earliest. Roger Leishman Restoration Director 01442 874536 email@example.com
Pictures by Wendover Arm Trust
Grand Union Wendover Arm
KESCRG come to the rescue after the rains of late spring and early summer threaten the Trust’s restoration targets
Sussex Ouse Sussex Ouse
Pictures by SORT
Down on the Sussex Ouse, following an unexpected earlier start during a dry April to this year’s restoration targets, the rain during May and early June quickly slowed the work down. However brief windows of opportunity appeared and allowed steady preparation for the repair of the hole in the fore-bay of Isfield Lock chamber. The preparation involved extending the ramp into the chamber to the offending area to allow machinery access before the area surrounding the hole could be cleared and cleaned. The steel for the concrete reinforcement then needed to be placed across the bay and into Isfield Lock lower forebay shuttering and recesses chased into the reinforcing and (below) after the pour walls, positioned and secured. Once that was achieved all that was required was a window in the weather and a turnout of a large enough workforce to enable the 3.6 cubic metres of concrete to be mixed and poured in one day. Somehow a day was selected, during some of the most unsettled weather for years. The lock was regularly pumped dry leading to the chosen day and on Saturday 9th June the ‘big pour’ was completed in a continuous seven hour operation involving most of the regular SORT workforce and some invaluable help from three members of KESCRG. The success of the task rested heavily on Ted Lintott’s shoulders and SORT do recognise the amount of work and planning he put into this one day when the main restoration task for 2012 was completed. And, with that task complete, work can now continue with the demolition and restoration of the west chamber wall. Terry Owen
ASHBY CANAL ASSOC Rod Smith 4 Ashby Road, Sinope Coalville LE67 3AY Tel: 01530 833307 BARNSLEY, DEARNE & DOVE CANAL TRUST June Backhouse, 39 Hill St, Elsecar, Barnsley S74 8EN 01226 743383 www.bddct.org.uk BCN SOCIETY Jeff Barley, 17 Sunnyside Walsall Wood, W Midlands 01543 373284 www.bcn-society.org.uk
CHICHESTER SHIP CT Linda Wilkinson, 1 Chidham La Chichester PO18 8TL 01243 576701 www.chichestercanal.co.uk COTSWOLD CT Bell House, Wallbridge Lock Stroud GL5 3JS 01285 643440 firstname.lastname@example.org www.cotswoldcanals.com FRIENDS OF THE CROMFORD CANAL George Rogers 2 Main St, Whatstandwell Matlock DE4 5HE 07789 493967 email@example.com www.cromfordcanal.org.uk
BUCKINGHAM CANAL SOC Athina Beckett 2 Staters Pound, Pennyland Milton Keynes MK1 5AX 01908 661217 DERBY & SANDIACRE CS email: firstname.lastname@example.org Doug Flack www.buckinghamcanal.org.uk 23 Thoresby Cres, Draycott Derby DE72 3PH BUGSWORTH BASIN 01332 576037 (IWPS) www.derbycanal.org.uk Ian Edgar Top Lock House, Lime Kiln DIG DEEP INITIATIVE Lane, Marple SK6 6BX. Alan Cavender 0161 427 7402 53 Derwent Drive, email@example.com Maidenhead SL6 6LE www.brocross.com/iwps/ 01628 629033 index.htm firstname.lastname@example.org www.dig-deep.org.uk CALDON & UTTOXETER CANALS TRUST DORSET & SOMERSET Alison Smedley CANAL SOCIETY Hazelhurst Cottage Derrick Hunt Denford, Leek ST13 7JT 43 Greenland Mills 01538-385388 Bradford on Avon BA15 1BL email@example.com 01225 863066 www.cuct.org.uk firstname.lastname@example.org CHESTERFIELD CANAL TRUST Mick Hodgetts 31 Pottery La Chesterfield S41 9BH 01246 620695 chesterfield-canal-trust.org.uk
DROITWICH CT Vaughan Welch 29 Dice Pleck, Northfield Birmingham B31 3XW 0121 477 9782 email@example.com www.worcs.com/dct
Directory Canal societies and WRG EAST ANGLIAN WATERWAYS ASSOC David Revill, 43 Kings Road Coltishall, Norfolk NR12 7DX 01603 738648 firstname.lastname@example.org EREWASH CANAL P&DA Mick Golds 73 Sudbury Avenue Larklands, Ilkeston Derbys DE7 5EA Notts (0115) 9328042 ESSEX WATERWAYS LTD Colin Edmond Paper Mill Lock, North Hill Little Baddow Essex CM3 4BT 01245 226245 email@example.com www.waterways.org.uk FOXTON INCLINED PLANE TRUST c/o Mike Beech Foxton Canal Museum Middle Lock, Gumley Road, Foxton Market Harborough Leicestershire LE16 7RA 0116 279 2657 firstname.lastname@example.org www.fipt.org.uk ROLLE CANAL AND NTH DEVON WATERWAYS SOC Adrian & Hilary Wills Vale Cottage, 7 Annery Kiln Weare Giffard, Bideford EX39 5JE Tel: 01237 477705 email@example.com www.therollecanal.co.uk
RIVER GIPPING TRUST Martin Bird 29 Melton Grange Rd Melton Woodbridge IP12 1SA 01394 380765 restoration@rivergippingtrust. org.uk GRAND WESTERN CT Denis Dodd, Wharf Cottage Nynehead, Wellington Somerset TA21 0BJ 01823 661653 GRANTHAM CANAL SOC Ian Wakefield 0115 989 2128 ian.wakefield@ granthamcanal.com www.granthamcanal.com HEREFS & GLOUCS CT c/o The Wharf House, Over Gloucester GL2 8DB 01452 332900 www.h-g-canal.org.uk KESCRG Eddie Jones ‘Little Orchard’ Berryfields Fillongley Coventry CV7 8EX 0845 226 8589 firstname.lastname@example.org www.kescrg.org.uk LANCASTER CT Paul Shaw 12 Malham Close Lancaster LA1 2SJ 01524 35685 email@example.com www.lctrust.co.uk
Directory LAPAL CANAL TRUST 26 Loynells Road, Rednal Birmingham B45 9NP 01785 713862 www.lapal.org LICHFIELD & HATHERTON CANALS REST'N TRUST Sue Williams, Norfolk House 29 Hall Lane, Hammerwich Burntwood WS7 0JP 01543 671427 firstname.lastname@example.org www.lhcrt.org.uk NEATH & TENNANT CS Ian Milne 16 Gower Road, Sketty, Swansea SA2 9BY 01792 547902 MANCHESTER BOLTON & BURY CANAL SOCIETY Steve Dent 07802-973228 www.mbbcs.org.uk
SALTISFORD CT Budbrooke Road Warwick CV34 5RJ 01926 490 006 email@example.com, www.saltisfordcanal.co.uk SCARS (SANKEY CANAL) Colin Greenall 16 Bleak Hill Rd, Eccleston St. Helens WA10 4RW 01744 731746 firstname.lastname@example.org www.scars.org.uk SHREWSBURY & NEWPâ€™T CANALS TRUST Tam Hazan email@example.com www.sncanal.org.uk
SHROPSHIRE UNION CS Richard Hall 35 Tyrley Cotts Market Drayton TF9 2AH MONMOUTHSHIRE BRECON 01630 657737 & ABERGAVENNY CT firstname.lastname@example.org Phil Hughes www.shropshireunion.org.uk 14 Locks Canal Centre Cwm La, Newport NP10 9GN SLEAFORD NAV TRUST 01633 892167 Steve Hayes email@example.com 10 Chelmer Close www.mon-brec-canal.org.uk N Hykeham Lincs LN8 8TH NWPG 01522-689460 Bill Nicholson email: steve.hayes17 Clifford Road, Princes firstname.lastname@example.org Risborough HP27 0DU. www.sleafordnavigation.co.uk 01844 343369 / 0779 1097773 email@example.com SOMERSETSHIRE COAL www.nwpg.org.uk CANAL SOCIETY Derrick Hunt POCKLINGTON C.A.S 43 Greenland Mills Paul Waddington Bradford on Avon BA15 1BL Church House, Main St. 01225-863066 Hemingborough YO8 7QE derrickjohnhunt@btinternet,com 01757 638027 www.coalcanal.org
RIVER STOUR TRUST John Morris 2 Stockton Close, Hadleigh Ipswich IP7 5SH firstname.lastname@example.org www.riverstourtrust.org
THAMES & MEDWAY CA Brian Macknish Meadow View, Hodsell St Sevenoaks TN15 7LA email@example.com www.thamesmedway.co.uk
STOVER CANAL SOCIETY George Whitehead 26 Northumberland Place, Teignmouth TQ14 8BU. Tel: 01626 775498 Georgewhitehead1@tiscali.co.uk, www.stovercanal.co.uk
WENDOVER ARM TRUST Roger Leishman 7 Hall Park Berkhamsted HP4 2NU 01442 874536 firstname.lastname@example.org www.wendoverarmtrust.co.uk
STRATFORD ON AVON CS Clive Henderson The Bridge House Church Lane Lapworth Solihull B94 5NU email@example.com www.stratfordcanalsociety.org.uk
WEL CREEK TRUST Mrs C Day, 1 Tramways Outwell PE14 8PZ firstname.lastname@example.org
SURREY & HANTS CANAL SOC Duncan Paine 52 Kings Road Fleet GU51 3AQ 01252-614125 email@example.com www.basingstokecanal.org.uk/society SUSSEX OUSE RESTORATION TRUST Paul Morris, Farmcote Nettlesworth Lane Old Heathfield Heathfield TN21 9AP 01453 863683 firstname.lastname@example.org www.sxouse.org.uk SWANSEA CANAL SOC Clive Reed 17 Smithfield Road, Pontardawe Swansea West Glam. SA8 4LA 01792 830782
WEY & ARUN CT The Granary, Flitchfold Farm Loxwood, Billingshurst West Sussex RH14 ORH 01403 752403 email@example.com www.weyandarun.co.uk WILTS & BERKS CT George Eycott 4 Lewendon Road Newbury RG14 1SP 07771 775745 firstname.lastname@example.org www.wilts-berks-canal.org.uk WOODEN CANAL BOAT SOCIETY 173 Stamford St Central Ashton under Lyne OL6 7PS 0161-330-8422 email@example.com www.wcbs.org.uk WRG ENQUIRIES, BOOKINGS, DRIVER AUTHORISATION, Jenny Morris, IWA Island House, Moor Road Chesham HP5 1WA 01494 783453 firstname.lastname@example.org www.wrg.org.uk
WRG NORTH WEST Malcolm Bridge 89 Rishworth Mill Rishworth Sowerby Bridge HX6 4RZ 01422-820693 email@example.com www.wrgnw.org.uk WRG NW - ENQUIRIES/ PAPERCHASES David McCarthy Woodstock, 14 Crumpsall Lane Manchester M8 5FB 0161-740 2179 www.wrgnw.org.uk WRG BITM & 'NAVVIES' DIARY David Wedd 7 Ringwood Road Blackwater Camberley Surrey GU17 0EY 01252 874437 firstname.lastname@example.org www.wrgbitm.org.uk LONDON WRG Tim Lewis 5 Herongate Road, Wanstead London E12 5EJ 07802 518094 email@example.com www.london.wrg.org.uk WRG EAST MIDLANDS John Baylis 215 Clipstone Rd. West Forest Town, Mansfield Notts NG19 0HJ 01623 633895
ESSEX WRG Frank Wallder 12 Bray Lodge Cheshunt Waltham Cross EN8 0DN 019926-636164 firstname.lastname@example.org www.essex.wrg.org.uk
WRG BOAT CLUB Sadie Heritage 236 Station Rd. Whittlesey Peterborough PE7 2HA 01733 204505 07748 186867 (mobile) email@example.com
TRANSPORT MANAGER Jonathan Smith 23 Hardings Chalgrove Oxford OX44 7TJ 01865 891 370 firstname.lastname@example.org OTHER DIRECTORS
WRG DIRECTORS CHAIRMAN Mike Palmer 3 Finwood Road Rowington Warwickshire CV35 7DH 01564 785293 email@example.com
WRG FORESTRY Clive Alderman 30 Primley Lane Sheering Bishops Stortford CM22 7NJ 07973 877380 WRG PLANT firstname.lastname@example.org George Eycott 4 Lewendon Road IWA/WRG STAMP BANK Newbury RG14 1SP Steve & Mandy Morley 07771 775745 33 Hambleton Grove email@example.com Emerson valley Milton Keynes SITES GROUP MK4 2JS Judith Palmer 01908 520090 3 Finwood Rd. firstname.lastname@example.org Rowington Warwickshire CV35 7DH CANAL CAMPS MOBILES 01564 785293 (A) 07850 422156 email@example.com (B) 07850 422157 WRGPRINT 'NAVVIES' EDITOR John & Tess Hawkins Martin Ludgate 4 Links Way, Croxley Grn 35 Silvester Rd. Rickmansworth London SE22 9PB WD3 3RQ 020 8693 3266 01923 448559 0777 947 8629 (mobile) firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com IWA CHAIRMAN 'WRGWEAR' CLOTHING Clive Henderson Helen Gardner c/o IWA, 33 Victoria Road Island House Moor Road, Northwich CW9 5RE Chesham HP5 1WA 07989 425346 clive.henderson@ firstname.lastname@example.org waterways.org.uk
Help us keep this directory up to date If you spot any errors or omissions or know of any changes to any contact details in this list please pass them on to the editor. The next full directory will appear in issue 257, but any corrections received before then will also be included in the next available ‘Navvies Noticeboard’. Thank you for your assistance.
Rick Barnes 11 Lawns Park North Woodchester Stroud GL5 5PP 07976 748345 email@example.com Mick Beattie 42 Eaton Drive Rugeley WS15 2FS Spencer Collins The Boatyard, 5 Hammond Way Trowbridge BA14 8RS 07790 017418 firstname.lastname@example.org Chris Davey Angle House Green Terrace Skipton BD23 5DS email@example.com John Baylis, 215 Clipstone Rd. West Forest Town Mansfield Notts NG19 0HJ 01623 633895 Harry Watts 12 St John Road, Slough SL2 5EY 07889 237834 firstname.lastname@example.org James Butler 7 Hawthorne Close Woodford Halse NN11 3NY 07745 256117 email@example.com Helen Gardner (see above)
Dig report KESCRG on the Wendover KESCRG on the Wendover
It all gets a bit Time Team-ish as KESCRG continue their exploratory work on Whitehouses Pumping Station prior to their summer camp
the soil removed, and they were all stacked on the fire in the time it would have taken to unroll the Tirfor cable for the first stump! A few hardcore keeno’s started further excavation of the settling tank which was the main task for the weekend. There was a lot of digging and barrowing to be done but it wasn’t long before the pumping station presented its first reward of the weekend. In the centre of the wall above the settling tank was a stone with 1865 engraved into the face. This has caused some confusion as it doesn’t really tie in with the known history of the site but it gives us another period in time for us to focus our research on. A dirty pint in the Village Swan was well deserved on the way back to the hall to discuss the findings of the day. A very filling meal produced by Eli, followed by a speedy AGM meant that the pub didn’t have to wait long for our return. On Sunday morning, Mick, Roy, Jo & Jen built some sustainable steps into the batters of the canal to provide better access. They split some of the logs that were created on the Saturday and installed them as risers, the treads were then filled with the delight-
Over the first May bank holiday weekend, KESCRG returned to the Wendover Arm to continue their exploratory work on the Whitehouses Pumping Station in preparation for their summer camp in July. The Village Swan in Ivinghoe Aston provided a warm welcome for all until the switch for the heating was found in the nearby village hall. It was the first time in weeks that the rain had stopped and we were fortunate enough to have a completely dry weekend. Saturday started with a slash and burn affair clearing an area for the summer camp to use for welfare and storage. Around 50 small trees were felled and incredibly Mick the Mattock Man and Andy spawned a fire from nothing but damp undergrowth with no chemical assistance! Of course there was the usual criticism of this task but the end result was the same, a roaring fire that burnt all of the material that it needed to, surrounded by a group of opinionated volunteers interspersed with the odd person trying to keep warm! The clearance stopped when we reached the old outdoor toilet that was associated with the pump house. Now either the last person to use it had one tremendous curry the night before, or the bricks and mortar have not withstood the test of time! Unfortunately this means that we will need to have a good old thunderbox on the camp after all. With the fire well underway and all of the logs neatly stacked for collection, Digger took great delight in demonstrating the reason for his hatred for Tirfors. All of the stumps were taken out, Main task for the weekend: the settling tank excavated
fully dry stiff material that the Wendover is renowned for. RAF Martin and Digger started to excavate the rubble from in front of what was thought to be the 4’ high door into the coal bunker. As the digging progressed Martin announced that the ash door for the boiler was appearing on the opposite wall. There was excitement in the camp as the excavation continued very slowly and gently until a little voice perked up from the back “Martin, why has the ash door got springs like a bed?” Well, after a little more fettling, it actually turned out to be a bed and the excitement instantly subsided! The excavation continued and before long a bottle appeared, then another and another. In the corner of the basement a large number of bottles had been stacked. There were all sorts of differThe date doesn’t fit with the building’s known history: more research needed ent shapes and sizes, some with corks, some with glass stoppers, some with stripes, some with dots. We decided that the can of Tennents Super that we had found closer to the surface was probably a later edition! After we reached the floor we chased it along and then found the brick built steps down to the basement so this is another area that is fully excavated. Meanwhile Richard, Rowena and Jo were chasing the quarry tiles that had appeared around the fire and were starting to uncover what looked like the kitchen floor. Two small holes in the floor just begged for Richard’s camera to be inserted. The results were surprising; it looks as if the whole building has a cellar. All we can see at the moment is a doorway with more bottles stacked in it, still full, which have been undamaged by the demolition and backfilling of the original structure! This opens up a whole new area for excavation as it was something that we weren’t expecting. So, we still need to find the boiler house so that we can determine the layout of the engine but who knows what else we will find in the process? It seems to be the site that just keeps on giving. The cellar, photographed by poking a camera through a hole in the floor Adam ‘Digger’ Morris
KESCRG follow on from their weekend work party (see previous pages) with a whole week on the Wendover Arm
KESCRG on the Wendover again
Repairing the paddle hole
The Chilterns were invaded for a week in July by a hardy band of volunteers determined to make a difference to the local canal. With tools in hands and mud on boots we set to work on restoring the Whitehouses pumping station. Located in the dry section of the Wendover Arm, the site will eventually serve as an overflow for the canal when it is in water once again. The excess water will be used to top up the nearby reservoir. Our mission was to restore the brickwork in the original settlement tank and arched culverts. Working alongside members of the Wendover Arm Trust we made good progress over the week, although there is much more still needing to be done. Our lean, mean, fighting team arrived in earnest on Friday night, taking over a local village hall. The group included newbies to canal restoration both young and old, as well as a strong backbone of experienced volun-
Grand Union Wendover Arm KESCRG camp 2012-10: 14 - 21 July
The brickies get stuck in to rebulding the settlement tank
As well as the rather more conventional camp report, Claire Westrop also produced this pictorial account of KESCRGâ€™s week on the Wendover Arm...
teers. A special mention must be made for our two pairs of volunteer cooks, without whom I doubt we would have survived the week with such high spirits and full stomachs. Our introductions were made, dinner was served and the team had been formed ready to start work the next day. Saturday morning arrived and we travelled to site for the first time. The vast quantities of mud were a shock for the less experienced among us. There was lots of preparatory work to be done first: erecting fences around the gaping holes on site and clearing earth away from the settling tank walls. From there on the real work could commence: deconstructing the failed sections of wall and arches and cleaning the intact bricks ready to be used again. By Sunday the arches were beginning to be rebuilt and some of the remaining brickwork in the front wall of the settling tank was already being repointed. Monday saw marquees erected ready to protect the bricklayers as the rain came down. In the evening we were treated to an excellent presentation by Ray from the Wendover Arm Trust. For Tuesday afternoon three intrepid bricklayers and pointers stayed behind to continue working whilst the rest of us enjoyed a tour of the Chiltern Brewery. Wednesday lunchtime four young volunteers were given a break from work to have first lessons in operating an excavator, which were thoroughly enjoyed. Before we knew it, it was Thursday - our last day on site. The last courses of bricks were laid and our End-of-camp pic of the volunteers with the completed strapping lads wall and (below) two years ago before work began loaded the dumper with heavy kit for the last time. With our work completed we sat down together for a stunning meal courtesy of our cooks. All that was left to do was to visit the local pub once more, before finally heading exhausted to bed. Overall the camp has been a great success. We had a fantastic mixture of many different ages and backgrounds in our group, and I suspect many long friendships have been started over the week. We all had the satisfaction of doing good quality work, with lots of unexpected fun along the way. Thank you again to everyone involved! Claire Westrop
Finally down on SurreyHampshire border, Ed and Gordon’s teams are doing their best to help put the Basingstoke Canal back in good order
Camp Reports Basingstoke Canal
Basingstoke Canal Camp 2012-10: 21 - 28 July “A tale of two sites”
Sunday: The work for the week was concentrated on two sites separated by about ten miles, one team lead by Gordon would Saturday: It’s rather relaxing to start a canal spend most of the week re-laying towpath at camp without the manic rush across half the Ash lock (started by London WRG a few country to get the vans and trailer – everyweeks before) while a second team led by thing was already in Didcot due to some me would be doing some maintenance work on the Deepcut flight of locks. So two new dodgy deals in a number of carparks across Oxfordshire & Hertfordshire the previous day. volunteers (Kev and Nigel) were sent off with 2pm saw Suzie and me heading south Gordon, Elanor, James and Derek to learn the finer points of dumper driving and towwith the first wave of vehicles to Mayford where we found the first of the volunteers path laying; everyone else headed to Deepcut. Getting there we found a large mound had already arrived and a children’s party in full swing. Catching up with the local organ- of crushed bricks at the entrance and the first iser (Martin Leech) at Deepcut we got the job of the day, Richard, Spencer and Nigel L were dispatched to start filling a boggy patch of latest information about the work list before heading back to the hall to start kit-counting. towpath with this material while everyone else People arrived steadily over the next dispersed to other jobs. Andy and Sheila were few hours, Row and Richard arrived with the tasked with clearing the undergrowth from the food, James pulled up in the second van and bywash around lock 18 so we could determine Gordon (the assistant) finally made it back how knackered it was while Maggie, Tony and from Switzerland via Cambridgeshire. Adrian Natalie headed off to start the de-pointing work Sturgess was delayed by something involving on the upper wing walls of lock 22. an architect and a wall and turned up the Stuart Stone dropped in for the day, next day. Row and Suzie (our chefs for the was presented with a shovel and rapidly got on week) cooked us up a fine spag bol, only with smoothing out the material put down by slightly delayed by the safety talk. dumpers, ably assisted by Adrian when he arrived (with a shovel no less!). Work progressed well despite the heat, the bywash emerged from the brambles and the pile of brick finally disappeared into the towpath. Meanwhile at Ash, our first task was to dry out the towpath ready for the new surface. The wet weather that accompanied London WRG’s recent visit had an unfortunate effect on the path. Some of the puddles required the use of a bucket to bail them out, whilst others Recumbent pointing in the bywash at Deepcut Locks were drained into the cut
with the enthusiastic use of mattocks and spades. Throughout the morning, as arms got tired, James offered an alternative and was kept busy with the dumper training, and Derek, Kev and Nigel all passed with flying colours. Thanks to our efforts and the warmer weather, the path began to dry out fairly quickly and allowed us to begin the repairs that the canal authority requested prior to the actual resurfacing - mainly the use of a thin layer of roadstone to act as something of a blinding layer. By five o’clock everyone was about done for the day and we headed back to the hall for showers and a boat trip with picnic tea on the Surrey & Hants Canal Society’s trip boat at Odiham. Monday: With the extra job of fixing the towpath at Deepcut done we could start the main work for the week – replacing a piling landing stage at lock 19. Adrian, Nigel L. and Andy took on this job and chunks of wood and bent bits of piling were soon being ripped out of the ground ready for the shiny new piles to be put in. HSS delivered the tower scaffolds we would be using as supports for the piling gate and a certain amount of head scratching was done figuring out how to assemble them. Up at lock 22 Richard, Natalie and Maggie had moved on to the towpath side wall and a certain amount of threatening by Richard had caused a load of bricks to fall out, the rest of the de-pointing was apparently far less destructive. At the bywash Tony, Sheila and Ian (our token day visiting local) had moved on to clearing the base of the bywash, cleaning the brickwork and exposing the walls completely. Luckily we found that the sidewalls were supported by about a foot of concrete and so the decision was made to repoint the brickwork and patch the cracks in the base, instead of the more extreme rebuild that was planned originally. Over at Ash, the repairs were slow-going but by the end of the day our new base-layer was getting closer to the section relaid previously. A morning visit from the Head Ranger was a slightly anxious moment as he inspected our repairs, but thankfully he was satisfied with our work and our plans for the rest of the week. Tuesday: With the old piling removed Adrian, Andy and Richard started putting the new piles in. The one advantage to the awful ground on the Basingstoke canal is that
piling is quite easy! Up at lock 22 and a large team of Kev, Natalie, Tony, Ian and Maggie had started repointing the walls –this was going fine until Maggie ripped the pull start off the mixer. Over at Ash and we had decided to mix the teams up a bit today, Sheila was swapped for Kev and was promptly trained on driving dumpers – quote of the week being “the fastest learner ever”. By the end of the day the “foundation” layer of roadstone had been laid on the towpath to fill in the boggy mess and a start had been made on the “topcoat”. Evening entertainment on Tuesday was the ever popular pub skittles at the Foresters Arms in Bagshot, Nigel managed to win the “highest score off three balls” award with 18 and FEH won the inter-van challenge. Wednesday was a bit quieter as we were a few people down, Maggie and Natalie changed focus and started the repointing of the lock 19 bywash while Derek, Adrian and Richard finished off the piling. Tony headed off to Ash for his turn and dumper driving and towpath laying with James, Gordon, Elanor, Nigel and Kev. Further attempts were made by a number of people to win the rumoured “It fell off in my hands, guv” award – more on this later. Not wanting to be left out, the Ash team got in on the piling act with some repairs to a doghole that was encroaching on the path. With some recycled piling from Deepcut, Nigel, Kev and Elanor set about repairs, although with only two sections we soon discovered that three was the magic number, so a request was duly sent to Deepcut for an extra piece to finish the job. Thursday: Back up to strength again and reinforced by the addition of Spencer Greystrong (returned from looking after the grandkids) we cracked on with Deepcut, the work at Ash reaching a close they only need Gordon, James, Kev and Derek to finish up giving more people to knock off some of the jobs at Deepcut. With the piling complete Adrian, Richard and I turned our attention to the anchor piles, tie rods and other steelwork – much drilling later, pile driving and nut spinning later and this job was done. Spencer was handed a kango hammer and took his frustration with the M25 out on the bywash base, opening the cracks up so that a good patch could be made. Elanor and Andy went off and planted bollards at lock 17 and 19 while
Friday: With the Ash towpath complete it was all hands on deck at Deepcut, James and Gordon went off and had an explore of the upper wing wall of lock 18 – this had been on our list of possible jobs, ten minutes of digging showed that the wall itself was ok but the bywash next to it had subsided by 10mm and there was a lot of wash out under its foundations. Back at lock 19 and the last of the cracks in the bywash were opened out and patched by Kev and Derek, the last of the pointing was completed by Natalie and Sheila, lock 22 was finished off by 4pm by Maggie, Ian, Tony and Nigel, Elanor and Andy had put the finishing touches on the bollards while Spencer, Adrian and Richard had fixed the wood rubbing strips on the new piling, planted another bollard and generally graded the site off. Delivery of a roller meant that the towpath we had patched on Sunday could finally be rolled flat and around everything else we packed the kit, returned the hired tools and generally tidied up. Back at the hall and Row and Suzie had cooked a selection of excellent homemade pizzas followed by a pudding buffet, the usual end-of-camp party things happened, awards were given to the good and the guilty, Team GB flags were given to those
who had spent more time than anyone else on Ash towpath, working in Gordon’s (GB) team. In a close fought race between eight people the “It fell off in my hands, Guv” award was given to Maggie for not only breaking the mixer but also a shower – the prize was a plaque made by Richard with the remains of the ice cream scoop that had died while Suzie was serving a rather hard batch of ice cream proving that rather than the claimed soft scoop ice cream it was a actually a soft ice cream scoop! It just remains to say “thank you” to everyone involved in the camp, many thanks to Martin, Nigel, Verna and the other locals on the Basingstoke for organising everything, Row and Suzie for cooking brilliantly for us all week including among the many highlights treacle tart, apple cake, lemon drizzle cake and pork and apple in cider, Dr Liz for delivering the KESCRG cooker, Gordon for stepping up to the mark when I needed an assistant and for doing a fantastic job running the Ash site all week and most of all for all the people who came on the camp and made it the good time that it was. Ed Walker and reporting from Ash: Gordon Brown
Natalie and Nigel carried on pointing the bywash. Up at lock 22 and Maggie, Ian, Tony and Sheila finished up most of the remaining pointing. The missing section of piling was rapidly installed at Ash, and by lunchtime the top surface was getting very close to our access point. The towpath beyond the access was a little tired in places too before levelling out in to a flatter, firmer surface, so the decision was made to extend the new surface to meet it. By now we were a very efficient team, and the last section was laid in record time leaving just the awkward-shaped access point in need of a surface in front of both a bench and information board as well as the fairly steep slope we had been using all week and which needed a little attention as a result. A spot of hardcore as backfill behind the piling and a top-up of roadstone was the last job of the day, and for the Ash site, the week. Back at the hall (via the excellent Woking leisure pool) and Row and Suzie had cooked up an excellent curry fest which saw record queues for seconds and thirds.
Towpath surfacing in progress
Mr Mac’s Ashes Looking back Mr Mac’s Ashes This article looking back to WRG North West’s activities on the Stratford Canal in the 1980s was written by Brian Lomas for the Hollinwood Canal Society’s magazine. We felt that it deserved a wider audience... During the 1980s Waterway Recovery Group (North West) concentrated their efforts in the winter months on the Stratford-on-Avon Canal. The canal had leen reopened in 1964, thanks largely to the efforts of the Stratford-on-Avon Canal Society, the Inland Waterways Association, the National Trust and the canal manager David Hutchings. Whilst restoration was under way the canal had been leased by the British Transport Commission (later to become the British Waterways Board) to the National Trust. On completion of the restoration the National Trust exercised their option to take over the freehold of the canal rather than hand it back to the Board. Whether this arrangement had a significant impact on the money which was made available to maintain the canal in a navigable and respectable state, I don’t know. Possibly, following the re-opening of the Upper Avon Navigation in 1974, there were concerns about the ability of the canal to withstand the additional traffic the creation of the ‘Avon Ring’ would generate. Either way, WRG were effectively called in to administer First Aid. I first visited the Stratford in the autumn of 1982 on a towpath clearance working party. Under the guidance of Ian McCarthy (Mr Mac’s son) I received blunt and frank tuition in the art of scrub bashing; the lighting, fuelling and transporting of bonfires; and how to take evasive action when the wind suddenly changed direction. During the course of the weekend I also came to realise that if I was to survive the night time temperatures of St Gregory’s Church Hall (the accommodation), I would need the kind of sleeping bag that Chris
Were you around for the Stratford Blitzes of the 1970s and early 1980s? Brian Lomas was, and brings us some memories...
Bonington took to Everest. Furthermore, I also noticed that not only was I the only one of the male contingent who didn’t look like a Viking, I was the only one who didn’t drink like one particularly when it came to consuming the rough cider on sale in the One Elm pub. Over the subsequent winter months by now kitted out in Millets’ finest outdoor gear, for indoor use at St Gregory’s - I returned to Stratford again and again. Although I didn’t realise it at the time I now look back on those Stratford days as something of a watershed for WRG(NW), as a number of the old hands moved on to pastures new, to be replaced by a group who, whilst no strangers to volunteering, were new to canal restoration work. Whatever our disparate backgrounds we seemed to bond well - not just on the work side, but socially. Over a period of time a pattern began to emerge as we developed our own specialisms. If we were doing a lock clearance one of the “early risers” would be up before breakfast to prime the pumps, whilst those with good hand-to-eye co-ordination were deployed on the barrow hoists. Those with a masochistic streak opted for the barrow run, which involved pushing barrowloads of very slimy and very smelly Stratford mud up a slippery slope. It combined hard graft with all the skills required in a game of It’s a Knockout. As for myself, as long as someone put a spade in my hand and said “dig” I was happy. Similarly, if we were “jungle bashing” we knew who could be trusted with a slasher, but not a box of matches, who could build a bonfire you could see from an adjoining county, but was best kept way from things with sharp blades, and who could not be trusted with any of the above. Ultimately though, I would like to think we did our bit to help although things did not always go according to plan. On one occasion we arrived at Stratford to be told, byword of mouth (as the
“...a wonderful and frightening selection of brightly coloured hats, gloves and scarves that had made their way to site via St Gregory’s jumble sale”
Mr Mac’s Ashes
Stratford-on-Avon Canal Society working party organiser was away on other business) that we were to clear the overgrown section of towpath by Bearley Aqueduct. So off we set. The weather was fine. The fires started without fuss. The blades on the implements were sharp. What could possibly go wrong? By Sunday afternoon we had cleared a good stretch of embankment and given the towpath hedge a good haircut. When the working party organiser finally arrived to survey our work we downed tools, stood back and admired our topiary. “You’ve done a good job,” he said, “but you’ve cleared the wrong section of towpath. I wanted you to clear the towpath on the other side of the aqueduct.” Crestfallen, we returned to the van. WRG(NW) did, however, pride itself on not having to cancel a dig due to adverse weather. To date, even after 30 odd years of action, only a couple of working parties have been called off because of the weather. But there were one or two close run things on the Stratford. Before each dig we would gather on Friday evening at Mr Mac’s to load up the van. On this particular cold and icy Friday Mr Mac warned us that the weather forecast was not good and had, therefore, set aside a bucket for use in an emergency. Inside the bucket was what looked like the contents of the dust pan from his coal fire. This particular dig, as I remember it, was fraught with difficulty. We got up on Saturday to sub-zero temperatures. The van refused to start and the pumps wouldn’t pump. We couldn’t even seek refuge in St Gregory’s Hall, which was being used for a jumble sale, although several resourceful navvies didn’t miss the opportunity to stock up on some cheap warm clothing. By the time we eventually made it onto site we looked like a group of New Age Travellers. John Palmer and Pete
Looking back Stockdale, even before ‘hi-vis’ clothing had been thought of, wore bright coloured boiler suits (orange and sea-green respectively, I think). To this you could add a wonderful and frightening selection of brightly coloured hats, gloves, mittens and scarves which made their way to site via St Gregory’s jumble sale. The array of colour would not have looked out of place at Notting Hill Carnival. Unsurprisingly, given the weather conditions, it was Saturday lunchtime before we got everything working properly. But once we got going and got down in the lack chamber (for we were doing a lock clearance) we soon warmed up. The rest of the day passed without incident, although I can remember glancing at the mud we were dumping and thinking it would run everywhere. As it happened I needn’t have worried - by the end of the day it resembled a huge glistening dung heap, frozen in the shape of a pyramid. By the following morning it had turned into a coconut pyramid covered in a thin layer of snow. With the lock and canal bridge it made a picturesque scene, not unlike a Bruegel painting, but not very enticing as a work site. We gave the lock a cursory glance and decided to call it a day. The journey back to the hall was slow Then the van got stuck in the drifted snow. The driver was not best pleased. The van wouldn’t budge and the 12 navvies in the back had adopted a similar stance. Eventually we got out and tried pushing, but the wheels just spun and slid around. The situation looked hopeless. Then someone said “I’ve got an ideawhydon’t we stick Mr Mac’s ashes under the wheels?” Brian Lomas Editor’s Note: Mr Mac is of course still going strong with WRG NW and was happy about the title of Brian’s article!
Navvies News Preston - and Stover - need you!
Assistance is wanted on two sites at the opposite ends of the country...
ning permission for work on the bottom half of the canal at the end of last year, and this was granted in February 2012. We applied for As an alternative to helping out at the Olym- a landfill grant, which was agreed in March. We understood that the grant would pics, why not try getting away from the hype and join us at Preston? Our event is a three cover 12 months, starting when we began day family festival combining the celebradrawing down the money. As there was a tions for the Preston Guild (held only once lot of preparatory work to do, the Stover every 20 years - and this year is it...) toCanal Society planned to do so next Spring. gether with the IWA National Campaign Rally Unfortunately this information was wrong on the Lancaster Canal celebrating the 10th and all the work has to be completed and the anniversary of the opening of the Ribble Link money by next March. Hence the urgency. (yes, really!) If you want to see what we are A railway bridge over Lock 2 collapsed about, look for the event on your internet 60 years ago, and instead of rebuilding the search engine - there is plenty of information bridge they put in an “Armco” culvert, thus online. putting an end to navigation. Lock 2 is part Help is required for all sorts of activities of a staircase with the sea lock (Lock 1), and whereas walkers could access the sea lock - water space, setting up (from Thursday 23rd), activities during the show (all the they couldn’t get through to Lock 2 and the usual attractions and things to do) and then rest of the canal. There is a granite arch taking down on the Tuesday. We are not beneath the railway below the Armco with a having any large marquees (but you will be bywash running through it, and our plan is an expert at putting up gazebos by the end to take out the grid in the arch - which Netof the festival) so the work won’t be heavy work Rail have already agreed to - and conwe are just looking for hands and feet - but struct a concrete pad underneath the arch mainly bodies... If you would like to come and a boardwalk taking the path through the we would love to see you there. bywash to rejoin the towpath above the We have arranged accommodation at a Armco. We will be allowed to open it as a local village hall (close to two pubs) where permissive path once the archway and there is ample parking. There will be enterbywash work is completed, and it will form tainment on Saturday night (complete with part of the Templer Way long distance path. Hog Roast) and the usual illuminated cavalWe’re hoping to run a long weekend on cade on the Sunday (we have about 30 boats 12th - 15th October with support from BITM booked in so far). and if possible volunteers from other reThis will not be an “organised” WRG gional groups and anyone else who can help. event, but if you would like to come along The main work will be constructing the (on your own, or with others) you would be concrete pad, and we shall be hiring in a most welcome. Contact myself at dumper (and a digger if necessary) and a firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 07802 438412 couple of mixers. We have to get the materifor further information. als down the towpath to the site; we can Trisha Buzzard, Lancaster Canal Trust dumper them about 500 metres, but would have to barrow them for the final 50 metres so we need plenty of bodies. Can you help? Stover: help needed! Di Smurthwaite I would like to put out a plea for help, if possible, as we have a slightly panicky situa- As we went to press this date was still provition on the Stover Canal. sional: contact Dave Wedd (see p23) for The background: We put in for planconfirmation and booking information.
Preston Guild Canal Festival 25-27 Aug
Asymmetric bars: not quite such good scaffolding Men’s pursuit: the D of E lads go after the girls on the last night of camp Women’s pursuit: ...or vice versa
...explained for WRGies 100 metres: the length of towpath the leader told you you’d need to lay in a week 1500 metres: what you actually ended up having to lay Heptathlon: job list the locals give you Canoe slalom: the only reasonable way to start restoring the lock Cross country: the locals’ idea of conveniently sited facilities Hammer throw: SPLOSH! “Damn, I knew I shouldn’t have left that lumphammer on the edge of the scaffolding!” Marathon: what the old WRGies still call the Snickers bar they eat on their tea break Triathlon: not the most convenient of routes to the nearest pub Mixed doubles: two puddings in one bowl Weightlifting: another extra large helping of the Camp Cook’s bread pudding Archery: really fancy brickwork! 20km walk: was it really not possible to organise a site loo a bit closer? Rowing: there’s been a break down in relationships between the local canal society and the landowners. Three Day Event: the National Waterways Festival Fencing: see Three Day Event above. Parallel bars: good scaffolding.
Heavyweight boxing: packing the catering kit into the boxes Lightweight boxing: finding an empty catering kit box and wondering what you’ve left out. Flyweight boxing: leaving some food in the catering kit when you pack it away in the boxes for a few months... Bantam weight boxing: (serious in-joke warning) packing the fridge chicken away. Pole vault: Helena trips over Krzysiek again High jump: what the editor is for, once people read the unexpurgated Mick Beattie interview... Modern pentathlon: taking photo of the lock on the site visit and uploading it to Facebook / streaming a video of the concrete pour to YouTube / sending an email to head office from site asking for replacement kit / downloading the practical restoration handbook to your tablet / using twitter to write the camp report... ...and speaking of writing the camp report... You folks have done a pretty good job of getting the camp reports from the first few weeks of the summer Canal Camps season written and sent in to us in time to get into this issue. Now it’s over to those of you on the camps in the second half of the summer to do the same! Anyway my thanks to everyone who contributed to the above list - especially Dr Liz, Ed Walker and Cath Coolican-Smith. Your support has been absolutely amazing, I couldn’t possibly have done it without each and every one of you, I still can’t believe I’ve actually filled the back page of Navvies, I never expected this in my wildest dreams, it makes the last two months of hard work all worth while (exits in tears...)
Navvies magazing for volunteers restoring the waterways.