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navvies volunteers restoring


First boats through Loxwood waterway recovery group

Issue No 235 June-July 2009

Navvies Production

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

Printing and assembly: John & Tess Hawkins, 4 Links Way, Croxley Green, Rickmansworth, Herts WD3 3RQ 01923 448559 Navvies is published by Waterway Recovery Group, Island House, Moor Rd., Chesham HP5 1WA and is available to all interested in promoting the restoration and conservation of inland waterways by voluntary effort in Great Britain. Articles may be reproduced in allied magazines provided that the source is acknowledged. WRG may not agree with opinions expressed in this magazine, but encourages publication as a matter of interest. Nothing printed may be construed as policy or an official announcement unless so stated otherwise WRG and IWA accept no liability for any matter in this magazine.

Martin Ludgate

Subscriptions: Sue Watts, 15 Eleanor Rd., Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Manchester M21 9FZ

Directors of WRG: Rick Barnes, John Baylis, Mick Beattie, Malcolm Bridge, Spencer Collins, Christopher Davey, Roger Day, Neil Edwards, George Eycott, Adrian Fry, John Hawkins, Jennifer Leigh, Judith Palmer, Michael Palmer, Jonathan Smith. Secretary: Neil Edwards ISSN: 0953-6655 Š 2009 WRG

Rachael Banyard

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 for page 2

Contents In this issue...

Front cover The new Loxwood Lock on the Wey & Arun, largely built by volunteers, was officially opened in May, along with the B2133 Loxwood High Street road bridge (above) Meanwhile in Yorkshire, Wansford Lock on the Driffield Navigation is nearing completion (left) while down on the Wilts & Berks Canal, Steppingstones Bridge was finally brought to (almost) completion on the Easter camps after a total rebuild that has taken several years (below). See pages 10-13 for a canal camp report. Back Cover: the Walsall Canal was the target for this year’s BCN Cleanup, and yielded the usual assortment of junk, including the inevitable shopping trolley: see pages 14-15. Cover photos by the editor.

Chairman BW, the future, and us 4-6 Coming soon lots more canal camps plus the October reunion on the Mont 7-9 Camp report Easter at Steppingstones10-13 Cleanup report from the BCN 14-15 WRG Boat Club hits the Fens 16-17 Logistics The Age of Shovelry 18-19 Diary canal camps and weekend digs 20-22 Letters dogs, the BCN, dogs, Standedge Tunnel... and dogs... 23-25 Progress a roundup of restoration progress on projects around the country 26-31 London WRG on the Chelmer 32-33 The Survey WRG luxuries and heroes 34 Navvies News stop van thefts 35 Noticeboard who’s moving house? 36 Infill with Jane & John plus Deirdre 37-39

Contributions... ...are always welcome, whether handwritten, typed, on CD-ROM, DVD or by email. Photos also welcome: digital, slides, prints. Please state whether you want your prints back. Digital pics are welcome as email attachments, preferably JPG format, but if you have a lot of large files it is best to send them on CD-ROM or DVD or to contact the editor first. Contributions by post to the editor Martin Ludgate, 35, Silvester Road, London SE22 9PB, or by email to Press date for issue 236: July 1st.

Subscriptions A year's subscription (6 issues) is available for a minimum of £1.50 to Sue Watts, 15 Eleanor Road, Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Manchester M21 9FZ. Cheques to "Waterway Recovery Group" please. This is a minimum subscription, kept low so that everyone can afford to subscribe. Please add a donation if you can.

all the latest news of WRG's activities page 3


BW, volunteers and the future

Mike Palmer ponders the likely effect on canal restoration of the recent changes announced at British Waterways

Chairman’s comment There has been a lot of change announced by British Waterways recently and although I recognise a lot of projects are not directly affected by it, it is true that the pressures BW are responding to also apply to the Environment Agency or any other navigation authority or waterway owners so I think it is worth a good looking at. And we have been involved in waterways for years, so if anyone is allowed to ponder over it, then it is us. So basically it seems that Government (and by that we mean the Treasury) has fallen out of love with the canals. Well perhaps that’s not true – its more a case that they still like them but they can’t afford them. Yes there is really good evidence that spending on waterways is a very good way of delivering public benefit (every £1 spent generates over £10 of measureable gain and Lord knows how much immeasurable gain, etc.) and it’s a fantastic (egalitarian even) way of getting to the whole of the community - and certainly a much better way of getting ready for the Olympics than running round a hastily constructed running track. But the Treasury simply says – “I’m sure that is true but it doesn’t beat hospitals, prisons and (obviously) bankers!” And even though it seems that those nice people in Westminster are about to fall on their swords (for which they have been claiming cleaning and sharpening expenses no doubt) I’m not sure that any change of the colour of parliament is going to make a big impression on this funding gap. I can’t see how anyone can do the numbers in the Treasury and end up with waterways ever coming near the top of the list. This issue, together with the general move away from centrally funded public spending down to regionally funded public spending, has resulted in BW’s new vision. Because all the money is now supposed to be fought over on a local/regional level so that people can have some influence over how it’s spent, they want to be the sort of organisation that has contracts to deliver all sorts of goals (public health, social inclusion, etc) that are not part of their current owners remit (that’s Defra, the Dept for Environment, Food and Regional Affairs). Though in a cynical moment I can’t help thinking that instead of our fight for recognition being held in a darkened room off Whitehall, where public health is just an abstract concept, we are now fighting for the same money in a public room in the local town hall and we are up against a real hospital where they looked after granny... But the option to change BW’s purpose sounds like a sensible discussion to have – it’s a way of dealing with all those people who have been arguing about which government department could give BW the best direction. Remove it from any department and just rely on a charitable strategy of doing whatever is ‘best for the waterways’. And this thinking is not limited to just BW. The pot of public money out there for voluntary organisations to deliver their objectives has risen by many billions in the last few years (so long as their objectives line up with the government’s of course). In the words of Third Sector minister Kevin Brennen “we want the third sector to be innovative, fast reacting, keen – all the things that government is not very good at”. I suppose I should be flattered – for years we have been saying that volunteers are the best because they have the best motivations and here is the proof they have accepted this. Unfortunately unless there is adequate cash provided I still think waterways are going to lose out. Anyway to return to waterways, what exactly are BW proposing? Well, lots of things as you can read for yourself (see but in the longer term it centres on the possibililty of BW moving into the ‘Third Sector’ ie no longer a nationalised industry (although that doesn’t mean it won’t still get a government grant) but not a private company either (although equally that doesn’t mean it won’t get involved in commercial activities such

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“Out of this rather unpleasant and shortsighted edict they have managed to salvage a central regeneration department...”


Do we need to ask questions?

as property development to bring in money). The Third Sector is all the charitable, co-operative, community interest etc etc companies that aren’t part of the government but don’t distribute profits to shareholders either, and BW sees a possible future in that area. As you would expect BW is hiding behind the usual chestnut of ”it’s not yet fully defined as we are doing a lot of consultation at the moment”. Actually no it’s not consultation, that’s what they are doing with the staff. It’s a debate they are having with the public. But in the shorter term one thing does seem definite: only a few years after they devolved all their experts from central departments to be embedded into each waterway region so they could play a proper part rather than just be a token expert, BW have decided to bring them all back together into central department to save costs. Now I’m not going to comment on the logic of this move - I don’t run BW, why should I know what makes business sense. But I would like to point to a problem that may occur and suggest you might like to investigate how it might affect your favourite restoration. The big issue is BW have said that (i.e. been told that) their waterways units must only do core business: keeping the existing track going, installing vital bollards, that sort of thing. Adding on bits of canal to the network doesn’t count. Now out of this rather unpleasant and short sighted edict they have managed to salvage a central ‘regeneration department’ which will lead on restoration issues centrally. But, thanks partly to all that consultation stuff, it’s all a bit vague about how it will work. Of late BW have had some nice useful guys who have been based locally and who have been doing a nice job just tootling along getting little grants here and there (which we helped them spend) and, most importantly, building contacts and continually pushing the idea of a successful restoration to everyone who would listen and plenty who would not. Are they still to stay in place but managed from a central unit? Or are they all to be replaced by a team of shiny hard-nosed professional regenerators who don’t get out of bed for less that £10million? Or will all these local officers who are fully committed to the concept of restoration have to re-invent themselves* so they can survive a culling. Given the fact that the regeneration department is bound to be underfunded (or even worse, expected to generate its own income)I’d like to present three scenarios we need to worry about: (1) The whole of BW’s restoration effort becomes a load of shiny hardhats that only dig big projects. Don’t get me wrong I’m not against shiny hats – I’ve worked with lots of them and they have done some really good stuff of late, but this scenario will mean that all those little £10K countryside access grants that get a bit of towpath restored get missed out on and so any potential restoration just goes backwards. And there is no chance of anyone working up a believable big HLF type bid. 2) The entire regeneration department is local delivery officers so that any really big bid that someone manages to write won’t be seen as deliverable because they don’t have any shiny hats. 3) The most likely – they will have both types of people but there will be a division so that the crucial jump from the community small scale to the big regeneration won’t happen. Because I think they can only do the jump from tiny to big by properly harnessing volunteers – and that takes the sort of skills that BW have always been very short of anyway and I see nothing in this package that says they are going to improve on this. And without that skill I think their regeneration department will not be delivering the goods. So here is what we all need to do – ask questions! The BW directors are on tour visiting lots of places (including the National Festival) so go along to your nearest event and ask questions. The questions are all very simple : “what’s happening with restoration” etc. But what is crucial is to not accept the simple answer that will come back. Keep pushing – “Yes we know that it is still all in consultation but give us your vision”. “What do you see as

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“The BW I want acts like a charity beacuse they believe in waterways, not because they have contracts to deliver charitable objectives”

BW, volunteers and the future

the worst outcome?” “What have you identified as the goals you need to hit?” “How will our project progress on the ground?” “Can we have all those documents and plans that you drew up with public money while you were happily pushing our restoration in happier times?”. That sort of thing. And once we have done our best to make sure that BW doesn’t become the albatross that they used to be then the real slog starts. I wrote some time ago that volunteers are too often seen as the stuff that fills in the gaps of a project when really they are the glue that holds everything together when the structure starts to look shaky. This situation is exactly what I mean. Because if someone is going to stop applying for those little grants, or stop attending those parish meetings, or not push for a route to be included in the local plan, the someone else is going to have to step in – and that’s probably going to be volunteers. Equally if the funders are now going to be told “Sorry can’t give you a really good plan for completing the whole lot in 12 months...” then to stop them walking away altogether, they are going to need “...but we are working on some good stuff, that will make a difference, we started this ages ago and we are still committed, this is still something that you should be interested in, we have thought about this very hard and here is a smaller chunk that we can deliver to the same standards” - and that’s going to be volunteers. Proper well-organised volunteers, with the right motivations, who aren’t arguing, moaning or trying to score points or make a living out of it. That’s you, gentle reader (and an awful lot of non readers). Because right now there is a real chance that waterway restoration may well suffer in the next year or two and that is something we cannot afford. Right now all my arguments about why volunteers are the answer are not rhetoric – volunteers are the answer now because there is no other answer around. I’ll try and temper this rallying cry with a return to knocking BW. As you can tell I have spent a lot of time talking with BW at various levels and I think they do understand some of the more esoteric reasoning behind the move to a Third Sector organisation: people are happy working for and with charities – they have more clear goals, etc. But what worries me is that whenever BW have tried to distil it all down to a single pithy message for staff and the public they just go back to “It will gain us access to loads more funding options”. Now I do understand that right now cash is important but if that is the reason you are changing your whole organisation then you are missing the point. You become a charity because you have something to believe in, you change the whole way that your organisation works to make it better. Becoming a third sector organisation is the reward in itself – you then get the money because you are worth it! I know it is easy to say these things as a volunteer just sniping from the sidelines but the BW that I want acts like a charity because they believe in waterways not because they have got a load of contracts from local authorities to deliver charitable objectives. I don’t want the organisation to move from using government as its “get out” clause to using the Charity Commissioners instead. If BW are doing this just to get more (or different) cash then they are missing out on the real benefit. And finally the Environment Agency has been busy as well – they too have been considering the use of volunteers and have been writing a report for the EA Board to consider about how they would do it. We have been giving them a bit of input and it is due for consideration any day now. Let’s hope that EA give it their full backing with a decent amount of direction from the very top and adequate resources. Hugs and kisses Mike Palmer

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In the second part of our Summer Canal Camps 2009 preview, we bring you the latest news on what we’ll be up to in late July and August

Coming soon

Lots more canal camps!

Canal Camps 2009: book early or risk disappointment!

Tim Lewis

It must be summer now! I have been woken up on this Saturday morning at 6:30am by the lovely sunshine outside. By the time you read this the sun will be up even earlier (I hope I’m not!) and the summer will be in full flow - and so will the start of the camps season. In the last Navvies I previewed the first half of the programme, and now here is part two. July 25th sees us into the second half of the summer season - so where shall I talk about first? Lets go for the Hereford and Gloucester Canal and a chance to “Make your mark in the park”. Camp 13 is being lead by Fred Towey (Yes another Fred camp!) assisted by Loraine Hughes with Sue Johnson cooking for them. Camp 16 has ‘RAF Martin’ Thompson leading with Martin Danks assisting. So guys, what have you got to tempt us to book on? A blank pallet from which we are to create a masterpiece, in two weeks. For those who know us this is about as good as it gets, good teams and a site with lots to do. The camps brochure talks about a slipway but this hides so much of the detail. Yes there will be excavating, dumper driving, compacting, concrete (ready & site mix) but the plan requires an access road from the car park, landscaping, a small dam to enable lower level works to be done in the ‘dry’ and brick retaining walls. So there will ‘on-line training’ for any aspiring bricklayers and plenty of brickie banter for the experienced master craftsmen (note for MKP: not moaning, just constructive criticism!).   PS, Did I mention the “while you’re here”, widen the canal task? Just remove 2 metres of bank, (there must be machines that will help!) then lay a new towpath/ footpath.   It’s a good mixture of work for all skill levels, the question is: Do you want to be here Goughs Orchard: four camps to choose from at the start (camp 13) or at the finish (Camp 16)? Book now as places are limited.  PPS, Hereford; there is so much to see, eat and taste in those quiet moments! There’s no competition; ‘Make your Mark in the Park, Aylestone Park, H&G 09 with Camp 13 or 16 or both!’ Meanwhile, running at the same time but on the other circuit is the start of the continuous four-week block at Goughs Orchard lock on the Cotswolds canals near Stroud. This year the work will include a wide variety of restoration skills, but will focus on rebuilding the lock walls, undertaking repairs to the lock bridge, towpath, landing stages and replacing the by-wash. It’s a lot of work to pack into 4 weeks and will be a significant step in the restoration of the Cotswold Canals. Week 1 is being lead by Mike Palmer and his ever faithful assistant Becky Parr. Normaly I would insert what Mike has to say to entice you onto his camp but I know how much of a busy man he is and how much Martin the Navvies editor is chasing him for his Chairmans piece so instead here is a photo of him in a pose that you may see on his camp!

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Coming soon

Summer canal camps part 2

Fancy concreting on the Ipswich & Stowmarket? Well you’re too late - it’s booked up. OK how about Chesterfield? But hurry!

Week two is being lead by ‘Teacher Chris’ Blaxland and Martin Worsley. Weeks three and four we had leaders for but now unfortunately due to unforeseen circumstances they’ve some of them are no longer able to lead, so we’re in the process of recruiting new ones. Watch this space! Obviously not THIS space, but this space * Meanwhile what’s happening on the other circuit after the Hereford and Gloucester camps? Well, we head back to Ipswich for the second time this year. As you may remember Liz Wilson is running the first camp in July, so by August the concrete laid by her team should be dry, ready for Ed Walker tol come along with his assistant Nigel Lee to carry on with the next task. So whats going to happen, Ed? The final week of this years project at Baylam Lock will see the last of the concrete invert being poured and a start made on rebuilding the lock wall that Liz demolished in July. Nigel and I are leading the camp with Harri B keeping us all well fed. Unfortunately this camp has proved so popular we have had to close bookings today - so unless we have any cancellations, perhaps a week on Goughs Orchard Lock would be an acceptable substitute? Finally we head up to Chesterfield for a fun filled week. WRG’s job for 2009 is to construct a wash wall to protect the new bank. Work will include building foundations in steel mesh and concrete and then blockwork to build the wall. This project will provide very quick results and considerable progress should be seen during the camp, along with good accommodation this is sure to be a great camp! We don’t quite have a camp leader’s name set in stone (or even in steel mesh and concrete) yet, but hopefully we will do very soon. And then the final main event of the camps summer program is the site services support camp for the IWA’s National Waterways Festival. This year it is being held at Redhill on the River Soar not far from Nottingham, and the camp leader is Neil Colllings with Alex ‘Tweedle’ Bibby as his right hand man. There will be the usual festival jobs like putting up fencing, moving it a bit, pushing cars out of mud, oops did I say that? I meant applying loads of suntan lotion and all the other fun jobs to make the National a totally different type of camp. Can’t make any of those camps? Fear not, as we do have two camps in October as well as the reunion to make sure you don’t suffer withdrawal symptoms too much - but more about those next time. And finally an update on the first half of the camps season:

. .

assistant Louise Gale has had to pull out but now Sophie Smith is taking over. Basingstoke canal week 1 June 27 -July 4: Paul Shaw and Matt McGinley are leading Basingstoke canal week 2 July 4 – 11: Rachael Banyard and Alan Wiffen are leading

Remember to check for the lastest news. James Butler

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Martin Ludgate

. Wilts & Berks, Pewsham Lock July 4 – 11:

More concreting scheduled at Baylham Lock

Mongomery Reunion The Welshpool Big Dig was held on the 16th? October 1969 and is widely acknowledged to have saved the Montgomery Canal. Volunteers turned up en masse to clear out the canal in Welshpool, fighting off a proposal to fill it in to buid a road, and ensuring the route was protected for restoration. Forty years on and the restoration has made great progress. WRG has run a couple of large long-term projects and has been holding regular summer camps there for the last couple of years. Meanwhile Shropshire Union Canal Society and the regional groups have made a continuous effort. We have now got to a stage where a big injection of effort over one weekend would make a difference and this happily coincides with the

Then what?

Come to the Mont in Oct! 40th anniversary of the Big Dig. We couldn’t have a reunion without scrub bashing and we have a decent length of ‘proper stuff’ - there will also be some other work to do. So come along, work on a canal you may not have worked ever (or at least for a while), admire our fully fledged Aston Nature Reserve and help us celebrate the last 40 years with a pint. Helen Gardner

waterway recovery group

Montgomery Reunion 2009

I would like to attend the Montgomery Canal Reunion on October 17-18 Forename:


Address: email: Phone:

Any special dietary requirements?

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

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

(cost is £11 for the weekend based on £2 breakfast and lunch, £3 evening meal) How will you be travelling to the Reunion? Do you want to work with volunteers from one of this year’s Canal Camps or from one of the regional groups? If so, which camp or group? Do you suffer from any illness, such as epilepsy or diabetes, about which we should know, or are you receiving treatment or under medical supervision for any condition YES/NO If yes, please attach details on a covering letter. In the unlikely event that you should be injured, who should we contact? Name:


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

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Camp report

Easter at Steppingstones

Our first camp of ’09 was the last of a series of camps that have rebuilt Steppingstones Bridge on the Wilts & Berks

up to feed 18 navvies for two weeks. [I Easter Camps: Wilts & Berks Steppingstone Lane Bridge April 4-18 suppose they’re used to the 5 loaves and 2

All photos by Rachael Banyard

fishes routine? …Ed] This had to be covered The first week of these two camps was led with a sheet to make it look tidy, and then all appropriately - by “Lord Steppingstone” the tables and chairs dismantled and stacked himself, Martin Thompson, with myself away, with promises to restore it after they assisting, and the second week we swapped finished (it wasn’t). This was one of the over. Martin was given his nickname some perils of having shared accommodation. The time ago, when he took over responsibility church people regularly have an attendance for the project from the local branch of the of 70, and take over the sleeping hall for W & B Trust. We had two main objectives for their main service, the smaller hall for a the camps: to complete the brickwork on the children’s service, the dining area for a eastern parapet wall, and to install and fill creche, and the kitchen to serve up their gabions to support the banks on either side refreshments. Di was squashed into a corner of the wing walls leading up to the bridge. behind screens to prepare lunch for our Martin was able, through his contacts at crew: On Monday, Wednesday and Friday, work at RAF Fairford, to get agreement for the village hall is taken over by the Sunshine us to use stone from gabions which were Day Centre for elderly people for lunch and a being demolished at RAF Welford - with the chinwag, for which they need kitchen, dining only cost to ourselves being transporting the hall and smaller sleeping hall, and Di was stone over to Steppingstone. We therefore stood over and harried by an impatient carer. started off on the first day by half the team In addition, on the Wednesday, there was a accompanying Martin to Welford to retrieve funeral wake in the big sleeping hall, with all the stone from the old gabions, while the our belongings having to be stacked away rest worked with myself at the bridge site. and hidden. Di was asked - could we move One of the main tasks to do there being the griddle (where? very tiny kitchen), the bricklaying, it was a bit disappointing to find Burco (full of boiling water), the cutlery tray that the WRG brick kit had not been included (dangerous for small children). Di hoped she in the kit trailer, which had come direct from was dreaming when they had all at last dethe BCN cleanup. Di went to Dauntsey, but parted and a lady arrived asking if this was was only able to find one towel, handbrush and hammer, as most of our local crew have their own personal brick kits. Rob, John and Martin have their own kits, so between us we bad enough to keep going. Meanwhile, back at the Watchfield Village Hall, the church people (Christian Outreach Fellowship) arrived to prepare for their weekly service, and were horrified to see the amount Bricklaying in progress on the parapet wall of food that was stacked

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Assembling the gabions where a children’s party was to be held! (fortunately, it wasn’t) Meanwhile back on site… WRG BITM had dug some of the trenches for the gabions two weeks before. John Hawkins started the bricklaying; assisted by Jeremy and Debbie, while Harry and Nishad mixed mortar. (Harry’s actual name was Charalambos, so we were relieved that he had a nickname!) Scaffolding was dismantled to make room for digging a further trench, and scrub was cleared (and burnt) to permit a change in route of the path up to the bridge. The stone on Martin’s site was stockpiled by the gate ready for collection. On Monday and Tuesday the same work continued at both sites, with the teams swapping over to give some variety. Rob Brotherston had arrived, so he and John - being our expert bricklayers stayed at the bridge site. Apart from the weekends, when Rob was off on National Trust breaks, he was with us for both weeks, and John stayed until Sunday night and was then off on Navvies duties These two, and Martin once he was finished at Welford, managed to provide some bricklaying training to most of the others. One of the problems with having biggish camps (up to 15 on both weeks) and wanting to give experience of all the different jobs needed - both skilled and (dare I say it?) a bit boring - is that no-one gets extensive training in anything, and in the second week one volunteer went home rather than swap jobs around.

A lorry had been arranged to collect stone from Welford on Tuesday morning, but it ran into overhead trees on its way there and damaged the hydraulic hoses so badly that it had to return to its depot, and that job was delayed by a day. However, the lorry managed one journey on Wednesday and two on Thursday, by which time all the stone had arrived at the end of Steppingstone Lane. The driver managed to get part of the way down the lane, and we dumpered the rest down from there. The Welford site had been a bit greasy after overnight rain nearly every night (but not during the day), and tracking had had to be laid for him to get away. On the Tuesday evening, Martin decided that after the main course in the evening they would take their pudding (cheesecake) up on White Horse Hill, which was very enjoyable until we came back down the hill to find that our van RFB had been broken into, and Amy’s bag had been stolen, containing cash, credit cards, car keys, etc. Back at Watchfield, we parked our cars closely round Amy’s, so that even if the thief worked out which car the keys belonged to he wouldn’t have been able to open the door, let alone drive away. By the end of the week, Amy’s boyfriend had arrived with a spare set of keys, and RFB’s window had been replaced. On Friday and the following Monday, teams had to go to Welford again to take up and clean all the tracking that had been laid down for the lorry, but after that everyone could join in at the bridge site, which made it easier for Di delivering lunch. Two more courses went up on the parapet wall on the

Digging a hole for the gabions

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Camp report

Easter at Steppingstones Monday, and by the end of Tuesday there were only 130 bricks to go! 10 more cubic metres of stone found new homes in the gabions. Wednesday woke up in gloom and heavy rain, so half the team went swimming - mostly the younger half but it did include Marlin Buckland! Sony, Martin, but you have already proved that you havenÂ’t yet reached your sell-by date. The other half went off to the Steam Museum in Swindon, and everyone came back to the hall for lunch - in the sleeping hall, as the rest of the accommodation was taken up by the Day Centre. We then went off with renewed enthusiasm to site, where the brickwork was at last completed! It has been a long haul, but it looks superb, and all those who have taken part in the work over the last few years have reason to feel proud. The walls now only have the coping stones to put into place. By the end of the week, 17 cubic metres of gabions were in place, filled and firmly wired together, enclosing about 25 tonnes of stone. While

“It has been a long haul, but it looks superb and all those who have taken part have reason to feel proud”

filling the gabions might be a bit laborious, they play an important part in completion of the site, and those that took part in this work can again have a sense of achievement. We have been offered PFA (pulverised fuel ash) from Didcot Power Station for filling the holes at either end of the bridge to bring the slope up. and this will not only be without charge, but will be delivered free. They will also do the risk assessment and pay half the fee for the licence from the EN By Friday, with careful management of the budget - and possibly with all cakes and puddings being home made - Di had managed to save enough for us all to go out for a meal to the local hostelry. Martin also contributes towards this, as any tins and catering packs left over after RAF events (that would otherwise be thrown out) migrate into his car, and thence into the camp food store. Di has good facilities for shopping where she lives in Newton Abbot, including a Bookers cash and carry. Anyway,

Filling the gabions with stone donated by the RAF

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we finished up with a really nice meal at College Farm Inn. We had taken part in two pub quizzes there, with three teams one week and two the other, with our highest teams making it to second place in the first week and third in the second. Are our navvies superintelligent, or just good on pub quiz trivia? Needless to say, Mina enjoyed herself, collapsing in an exhausted heap in her bed at the end of the day. As is her wont, she made a lot of new friends, being a very affectionate dog. The advantage of having a meal out rather than a party in the accommodation on the last night is that no-one went to bed ‘a little the worse for wear’. This meant that

everyone was up ready for breakfast on Saturday morning, the kit check was done, everything was tidied away, and the last hall was being swept out and mopped by 9.30am. Derek and Maggie remarked that they’re usually trying to dig some teenagers out of bed at that time - in fact, Derek remembered once sweeping up a teenager! Many thanks to everyone from myself and the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust - you’re too numerous to mention each by name, but we enjoyed the company of all of you, you worked extremely bard, and we achieved all had hoped. Rachael Banyard

Above: wiring the gabions into place. Below: the parapet nearing completion

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BCN Cleanup

Reporting from the Walsall Canal

“Anthropologists would have a field day on the BCN, watching the tribes in action”

who originally chucked it in there back in 1996? We’re all just seeking thrills in our The BCN gets me thinking. Why do we spend own watery way, albeit some of us with a our weekends the way we do? Rather than, greater social conscience than others. say, pushing a trolley round Ikea, coaching Don’t neglect either the spiritual aspect womens’ hockey, or starching 5 shirts for the of both canal dumping and canal plundering. week ahead. We, the recipients of the bounty of the deep, And then I think: why do the people see not whence it came. Like the mystery of who throw things into canals do what they the flesh – from a muddy primal soup somedo? Rather than, say, putting it in a bin, or in a thing emerges. Who put it there in the first skip, or simply not nicking it in the first place? place? Is it God, the unseen almighty, or is it a I think the answer lies beneath the ragamuffin from the local estate? They, the mysterious waters of the Birmingham Canal misbegotten, the creators of mischief and of Network. There’s something which compels chaos, like Pan in a tracksuit, they are the us all beneath that oily green surface. On the providers of the black stinking fruit we harvest WRG side, there’s a thrill of anticipation as from the fertile mud of the canal bed. All life the grappling iron plunges into the murky came from the water, and to water we all depths, the raised heartbeat as the shapeless return, WRG and anti-WRG alike, in a dance as object is hauled onto the towpath for identifi- old as time (I may have taken that last bit from cation. An ever-present hope that it might be the documentary ‘March of the Penguins’). the lost Russian crown jewels you pull out, Anthropologists would have a field day and not another bloody car tyre. on the BCN, watching the tribes in action. Surely it’s the same for those who WRGies gather in groups to achieve their throw it in as those of us that haul it out. task of hauling prizes from the depths. WRG and anti-WRG I suppose you might say. Youngsters and new faces are inducted into The thrill of nicking a bike off a small child the ways of the tribe (in this case, relentless playing in a cul de sac, taking turns with a innuendo and advice on removing mud mate to ride it along the towpath, then the stains). Afterwards, everyone gathers on the joy of hearing it plop into the water and towpath to celebrate the find and there is disappear into the cloudy deep. An ever-present dread of a community police officer jumping out from behind a towpath bush waving a pair of handcuffs. Hope, excitement, anticipation. Three emotions which unite WRG and anti-WRG alike. Are we so very different, those of us hauling on a grappling hook in waterproof trousers, from the bloke Another boat load of the Walsall Canal’s finest crap heads for the skips wearing a shell suit All photos by Martin Ludgate

BCN Cleanup 2009

page 14

brief notoriety for the person that hooked it. Later back at the cave (or school) there is drinking (lots of it) and the hunters recount their tales of daring-do. So too for the anti-WRG, who bands with his tribesmen to launch daring raids on neighbouring settlements. Together they haul their stolen prizes along the towpath, laughing triumphantly. Bonding occurs as they share the experience of throwing the spoils into the canal. Back at the estate, everyone gathers to hear the tale and the hunters enjoy brief notoriety for being Wel Ard, a quality highly prized by these tribesmen. What does all human kind want? Prestige, exhilaration, the respect of our peers. Some of us achieve it throwing a sofa into a canal, some of us by fishing it out. In the words of the immortal Elton John, it’s just the circle of life. This year’s BCN was excellently organised by Aileen Butler, and the weather smiled upon us. The glut of shopping trolleys came as a welcome relief from the tractor tyres which tested everyone’s patience in 2008. There was an excellent haul to be had along the Tame Valley stretch, along with the usual cache of bikes and kitchen equipment, and we plan to concentrate on this area next year. More unusual finds included a bag of jewellery (handed into the police) and some very exciting black lace underwear. We also hauled out a number of frighteninglooking crayfish, black and stinking, who waved their pincers at us resentfully. Back at the accommodation we were cosy and the atmosphere was very good. I know some people are very dismissive of the accommodation we’ve used for the last few years but I find one floor is pretty much the same as another when it comes to sleeping. What are you expecting – en suite? Showers were (eventually) hot and Maria cooked up a storm with impressive calm. A friend I’d brought along on only her second dig told me afterwards “I had such a lovely time and it’s so nice to be presented with a bunch of ready made lovely friends” so thanks to everyone who made Karen welcome. It’s great that WRG is always so welcoming to new members. I’d like to conclude by urging you all to hug a hoodie. Without their nefarious activities along the BCN we’d only have Ikea and the ironing to fill our weekends. A selection of the items recovered, Sophie Smith including a first for us - a lion!

page 15


WRG boat club report

WRG Boat Club’s Sadie has some news from the Fens: campaigning for raising low bridges, restoration plans, and a lock that the EA won’t mend

on the Middle Level. We also attended a fun and fundraising Well the boating ‘season’ is well underway event at Bill Fen Marina – what a superb location AND the owners Lynn and John and we have managed to get, by boat, to a couple of IWA events already. Shotbolt are WRGies, not digging any more We went on our local Peterborough but supporting WRG in other ways. Unfortunately the money raised may be Branch Easter Cruise, which was a bit of a campaigning event. We travelled to some of needed for a legal challenge concerning the ‘dead ends’ of the Middle Level system navigation authority the Environment Agency and checked the access and the length of the not reopening Welches Dam Lock for navigawinding facilities. We also went to a notorition. Frankly I so resent their attitude - beously low bridge (known as Exhibition cause I loved to go via the lock to the Old Bridge, but not on all maps) and all failed to Bedford River. get under it, then checked what length of If EA would just get on with repairing/ boat could be winded there! replacing Welches Dam Lock, which they leThese findings, and other information, gally should, any funds raised could be used will be used in a new guide for those cruising for other things, such as going towards the

Wrg bc news May 2009

Middle Level Navigations Pig Water: restoration proposed

recent and current campaigns

Ramsey Forty Foot: bridge raised Exhibition Bridge: needs raising Tebbit’s Pumping Station: new lock proposed

page 16

Old Bedford Sluice: access cleared

Welches Dam: lock repair needed

raising of the aforementioned Exhibition Bridge and reopening the route to Yaxley for all the boats that won’t fit at the moment. To really make the most of the system we also need...

. . .

to reopen Pig Water to create another route to the Nene. to stop the proposed bypass road from cutting off all hope of reopening the route. to build a lock to give access through Tebbitts Pumping Station on Bevill’s Leam aka Twenty Foot.

minute taking, sorting the venue, publicity and other stuff - like writing bits for Navvies! Some are going to Shackerstone Steam festival this year, others to Middlewich Boat and Folk. Where are you off to? Please let me and other members know, so we can at least wave to each other. Recognising other members is MUCH easier if you have the club sticker in you window, better still if you are flying the club burgee; available for £10 from Lynne. When are we going to have another ‘Bring a Boat’ dig? Looking forward to being inundated with your offers of help and great ideas – xxx Sadie Dean

IWA Peterborough Branch


I could go on; but who is interested in the Middle Level? Well as it is part of the national Waterways System, we all should be bothered about it. Now to the cliff hanger from the last issue, did anyone get a boat from the Middle Level through the Tidal Doors and onto the PS some members were concerned that they Old Bedford River? Well the EA did their bit or I had made a mistake! My advice is, asand cleared the passage to the doors BUT sume the worst and be surprised (and gratethe Middle Level Commissioners were behind ful) when I get things right! with the repairs on Salters Lode Lock so no one could get out through them and onto the tidal bit! I wonder what will happen in September when they say there is a chance of another attempt! Anyone want to come and have a go? Another thing happening in this area in the autumn is my Big Birthday Bash, so being here in October would mean you can join in. If you arrive by other means you will be welcome. Meanwhile, to boat club matters: I have got prices for club T-shirts, red (£6) and rugby shirts, red with white The low bridge and a previous IWA Peterborough rally there collar, embroidered with the club logo (£18). I will be taking orders with cash accompaniment, and if you get in quick enough I will have them at the IWA National Festival. If you want them posted to you I will have to work out the extra cost. The club AGM will be at the National but we need members to send us news, opinions and suggestions. Many members won’t be at the AGM other than in spirit! (No I don’t mean we will be holding séances). Volunteers are required for

page 17

The Age of Shovelry H

ere beginneth the tale of this glorious age: A tale of great champions - A knightly breed whose valiant deeds and courage would be an example to the masses in dark times. So loyal and full of pride and honour are they that even the most noble amongst them would appear humble lest they forget to put on their knightly attire.


y Lords! My Ladies! And anyone else out there not sitting on a cushion…

ay I present to you my liege, and your first contestant, Sir Thomas Mallory. He is known as The General, well suited to any task set before him. Sir Thomas is favoured by many to be the tournament champion for his all-round performance and some may say slight edge on the competition. also have the pride, the privilege, nay, the pleasure to introduce to you Sir Roderick Mortemer. He who descends the line of sires of old; indeed it is said that his lineage can be traced back to the nights when men sat around tables to discuss codes of honour. His virtues are many but the strength bestowed upon him is for excavating and getting into piles of stuff with ease; his very pointed tongue lends itself well to this task. ir Grafter of Clay is our new contender - a card of the wild if you will. Few will have heard tell of his skill and wit as he has been blown far from his homeland. A stout fellow, built strong as an ox. Some say he will be victorious where others have failed. His strength is that of twenty horses when he knuckleth down to cut through clay or hard places. His tongue is sharp and he who heeds not this advice should beware what may befall him. t is now my honour to present William, Lord Mercier. He is equally suited to the events that Sir Thomas competes in which means he too is a good all-rounder. Whilst some prefer Sir Thomas’s edge, others favour Sir William’s broader approach as there is potential for an advancement in pace. He may however tire in haste as the burden lays heavier on his shoulders. hat knight would be without his squires? They who tend their Masters every wish and need. I have word of two such squires… Roger of Heineken they call the first of these. He is small and unassuming; most would nought a second glance give. But for this very reason his services are invaluable. Some would say twas the job of a Geordie drainer* but this fellow who comes of an ancient line will amongst other duties empty debris from the smallest of holes. he second is Geoffrey the Gardner. He too is unassuming but being sharp of tongue he finishes things off beautifully; his attention to detail is second to none. The Wench of the Waterway held aloft the draining tool, but only by virtue of divine providence and righteous capability can any man (or woman) take it from her. And as there would be little water left should any man use it she giveth it up not likely. o tournament would be complete with the absence of a lady with whom each knight could aim their arrows of the heart. A creature so slender and beautiful she could bewitch a sorcerer. Adorned in a riot of colour she comes, and her loose material flows as if it were a river slipping through the twists and turns of its course until it comes in time to the sea. A suitor befitting her would be a knight of height as her legs reacheth the sky. The curves of her voluptuous lips would move any knight’s burden [dramatic pause for ponderance]... I give to thee, The Lady Latrina. he tournaments are held but one week apart far and wide across this land. The contestants travel in parties to each venue in turn, wishing to find the glory and honour they seek. Gauntlets will be thrown down at regular intervals [likely to be for the drinking of hot water with herbs in]. If your wager be that any ‘knight’ will do then that will be your undoing. For tis not enough to grabbest thy nearest choice. Knowest thou not well the navvies of olds saying, “Useth thy befitting implement for thy proper deed?” Be educated herewith, I beseech you. ut shortly to the point then I will go and make an end of this tale. These contestants will compete across this land throughout the many weeks to come. Make welcome their presence. Cheer them on and treat them well m’Lords and Ladies… Treat them well. And so, without further gilding the lily or any more ado, I present to you your tournament champions. Here beginneth their season. auisus Fossura! Jen of the Just Logistics of the Groupe of the Recovering of Waterways. Ye olde emaile: [My humble gratitude and the request of pardons to Mr Chaucer Esq, A Knight’s Tale, Monty Python and anyone else who hath penetrated my own mind with ideas, conscious or otherwise. Pardons also requested from those who findeth the foul use of Middle English herewith offensive. Tis only a laugh! Shhh…]







page 18

The Age of Shovelry Sir Thomas Mallory Taper Mouth Shovel General purpose especially mixing concrete & clearing/refilling trenches

Sir William Mercier Wide Mouth Shovel [You don’t see many of those ‘round here]

General purpose as with Taper Mouth

Sir Grafter of Clay Grafting Shovel For cutting through clay and hard ground Is a hard worker, i.e. it grafts! Lady Latriana West Country Shovel For moving loose materials Particularly good for tall people Less bending involved!

Sir Roderick Mortemer Round Mouth Shovel For digging, & shovelling loose materials Pointed blade breaks in

Geoffrey the Gardner Garden Spade Its flat edges mean neat sides & it will cut into turf with its sharp blade. Good for finishing.

Roger of Heineken Rabbiting Spade It is ideal for clearing out debris from awkward places or planting Or digging out rabbit burrows

Draining Tool *Geordie drainer Long narrow blade means its good for post holes, pipe & drain channels or deep small trenches

page 19

Navvies diary

Your guide to all the forthcoming work parties Jun 20/21


Thames & Severn Canal: Eisey Lock (Dig Deep project)

Jun 20/21


Wey & Arun Canal

Jun 20/21


Middlewich Folk & Boat Festival: Sales Stand

Jun 20/21

London WRG

Tool painting, maintenance & BBQ weekend: at Moose’s boatyard

Jun 20-27

Camp 200903

Montgomery Canal Camp. Leaders: Lou Kellett and Alan Jervis

Jun 27/28


Tool Maintenance weekend

Jun 27-Jul 4 Camp 200904

Montgomery Canal Camp. Leaders: Helen Gardner and Phil Scott

Jun 27-Jul 4 Camp 200905

Basingstoke Canal Camp. Leaders: Paul Shaw and Matt McGinley

Jun 28 Sun EAWA/NWDCT North Walsham & Dilham Canal: Ebridge Lock Jun 28 Sun wrgNW

Crumpsall Park: Sales Stand on Sunday only

Jul 1 Wed


Press date for issue 236: including Canal Societies directory

Jul 4/5

London WRG

Thames & Severn Canal: Eisey Lock (Dig Deep project)

Jul 4/5


T.B.A.: Dig at Ashby, or MB&B or Mont.

Jul 4/5

Essex WRG

Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation

Jul 4-11

Camp 200906

Wilts & Berks Canal: Pewsham. Leaders: Nat Belderson and Sophie Sm

Jul 4-11

Camp 200907

Basingstoke Canal Camp. Leaders: Rachael Banyard and Alan Wiffen

Jul 11/12


Cotswold Canals: Gough’s Orchard Lock

Jul 11-18

Camp 200908

Mon & Brec Canal Camp. Leaders: James Butler and Gordon Brown

Jul 11-18

Camp 200909

Ipswich & Stowmarket Navigation: River Gipping. Leaders: Liz Wilson a

Jul 11-18

Camp 200910

Thames & Severn Canal NWPG Camp: Eisey Lock (Dig Deep project)

Jul 12 Sun


Committee & Board Meetings

Jul 18-25

Camp 200911

Mon & Brec Canal Camp. Leaders: Rob Daffern and Rachael Bowers

Jul 18-25

Camp 200912

Thames & Severn Canal KESCRG Camp: Eisey Lock (Dig Deep project)

Jul 25/26

London WRG

Ipswich & Stowmarket Navigation

Jul 25 Sat


‘Paper Chase’ waste paper collection

Jul 25-Aug 1 Camp 200913

Hereford & Gloucester Canal

Jul 25-Aug 1 Camp 200914

Wilts & Berks Canal BITM Camp: Seven Locks flight (Dig Deep project)

Jul 25-Aug 1 Camp 200915

Thames & Severn Canal: Goughs Orchard Lock

Aug 1/2

Essex WRG

Lichfield Canal

Aug 1-8

Camp 200916

Hereford & Gloucester Canal Camp. Leaders: Martin Thomson and Mar

Aug 1-8

Camp 200917

Thames & Severn Canal: Goughs Orchard Lock.

Aug 8-15

Camp 200918

Ipswich & Stowmarket Navigation: River Gipping. Leaders: Ed Walker a

Aug 8-15

Camp 200919

Thames & Severn Canal: Goughs Orchard Lock

Please send updates to Diary compiler: Dave Wedd, 7 Ringwood Rd, Blackwater,

page 20

Canal Camps cost ÂŁ49 per week unless otherwise stated. Bookings for WRG Canal Camps (those identified by a camp number e.g. 'Camp 200903') should go to WRG Canal Camps, Island House, Moor Road, Chesham HP5 1WA. Tel: 01494 783453. Email: Dave Wedd


Graham Hawkes


David McCarthy


Tim Lewis


01494 783453


01494 783453

01494 783453

David Revill


David McCarthy


Martin Ludgate


Tim Lewis


David McCarthy


John Gale


01494 783453

01494 783453


01494 783453

01494 783453

01494 783453


01494 783453

01494 783453

Tim Lewis


David McCarthy


Eddie Jones

mith Rick Barnes

and Chris Wicks Mike Palmer

John Gale

rtin Danks

and Nigel Lee

01494 783453

01494 783453

01494 783453


01494 783453

01494 783453

01494 783453

01494 783453

Camberley, Surrey GU17 0EY. Tel 01252 874437. email:

page 21

Navvies diary

Canal societiesÂ’ regular working parties Amendments to Dave Wedd (see previous page) Once per month: pls check 2nd Sunday & following Thurs Anytime inc. weekdays Every Sunday Every Tue & Wed Every Saturday Last Sunday of month 4th Sunday of month Second Sun of month 2nd weekend of month 2nd Sat of month Tuesdays Weekends Wednesdays Weekends Every Sunday if required 2nd Sunday of month 1st, 2nd, 4th Sun + 3rd Sat 3rd Sunday of month 2nd & 4th Sundays 2nd & last Sundays Every Wed and 1st Sat 2nd Sunday of month 1st Sunday of month Most weekends Last weekend of month 2nd Sunday of month 1st weekend of month Every Tuesday morning Every Sunday & Thurs Mondays (2 per month) Tuesdays Wednesdays Wednesdays Thursdays Saturdays Various dates 1st w/e of month (Fri-Mon) 2nd Thursday of month Every weekend



page 22

Mobile groups' socials (please phone to confirm)

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

BCN waterways Buckingham area Aqueduct section Various sites Chelmer & Blackwater Droitwich Canal N Walsham & Dilham Langley Mill Foxton Inclined Plane Grantham Canal Nynehead Lift Oxenhall Over Wharf House Over Wharf House Hereford Aylestone Bugsworth Basin Lancaster N. Reaches Lichfield Hatherton N Walsham Canal Pocklington Canal Stowmarket Navigtn. Sankey Canal Combe Hay Locks Basingstoke Stover Canal Sleaford Navigation Newhouse Lock Thames & Medway C varied construction tidying road crossings Tickner's Heath Depot maintenance work Loxwood Link Winston Harwood Grp Conservation Group Hedgelaying (Oct-Mar) Drayton Beauchamp Drayton Beauchamp Wilts & Berks Canal

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


Mike Rolfe Athina Beckett Gerald Fry Mick Hodgetts John Gale Jon Axe David Revill Michael Golds Mike Beech Colin Bryan Denis Dodd Brian Fox Maggie Jones Wilf Jones Martin Danks Ian Edgar Paul Shaw Sue Williams Denis Cooper David Revill Paul Waddington Colin Turner Colin Greenall Bob Parnell Peter Redway George Whitehead Mel Sowerby Mike Friend Brian Macnish Eric Walker John Empringham Colin Gibbs Peter Jackman Peter Wilding Tony Clear David Jessop Keith Nichols Roger Leishman Pete Bowers Rachael Banyard

07763-171735 01908-661217 01288-353273 01246-620695 01376-334896 0121-608 0296 01603-738648 0115-932-8042 0116-279-2657 0115-989-2248 01823-661653 01432 358628 01452 618010 01452 413888 01432 344488 01663-732493 01524-35685 01543-671427 01543-374370 01603-738648 01757-638027 01473-730586 01744-731746 01225-428055 01483-721710 01626-775498 01522-856810 01948-880723 01732-823725 023-9246-3025 01483-562657 020-8241-7736 01483-772132 01483-422519 01903-774301 01403-269384 01403-753882 01442-874536 01255-504540 01249-892289

Lancaster Canal Trust Lichfield & Hatherton Canals Rest'n Trust Newbury Working Party Group North Walsham & Dilham Canal Trust Pocklington Canal Amenity Society River Gipping Trust Sankey Canal Restoration Society Somersetshire Coal Canal Society Surrey & Hants Canal Society Stover Canal Society Sleaford Navigation Trust Shropshire Union Canal Society Thames & Medway Canal Association Wey & Arun Canal Trust Wendover Arm Trust Wilts & Berks Canal Trust Wilts & Berks Canal Company


Is nine boats a week through Standedge any great improvement on nine boats a week through Standedge?

to the editor

Martin Clark

Dear Editor I can only agree with you about booking systems [Editorial, Navvies 234]. The tunnel booking system at Standedge Tunnel on the Huddersfield Narrow Canal has been, in my opinion, seriously restrictive and a major reason why boat traffic has failed to develop on the canal. Remember as well that the tunnel has closed for several months every winter (and will do so again this year for the installation of a communications system linked to the new arrangements.) Where you are in error, however, is in assuming that the new arrangement does not involve a booking system and that everything is now well. In fact we have moved from a booking system of four slots Standedge tug: will it be any better with self-propulsion? each way on two days a week to three slots each way on three days a week - I’ll leave the arithmetic to you! All we have beyond this is a verbal undertaking to ‘review’ the arrangement if it proves insufficient. We would be interested to hear from anyone unable to book within a reasonable time. Trevor Ellis, Huddersfield Canal Society Thank you Trevor for putting me straight on that. I fear that the arrangements for the Fens Link and Liverpool Link may be turning out (at least initially) to be equally user-unfriendly, with reports of people phoning up the EA about the Black Sluice Lock and being told “No, it’s not one of ours”, while in Liverpool it seems that you have to phone BW for an application form which you then send in to book a passage. Let’s hope sense prevails and something nearer to ‘turn up and go’ can eventually be brought in, and that we don’t get the same nonsense next year when the Droitwich opens. The Editor Dear Martin Just a note to say thanks to all for coming and working so hard at the BCN Cleanup weekend on the canals of the West Midlands and for pulling out all that ironmongery. I’ll tell you the amount when I hear, but the BCNS (Birmingham Canal Navigation Society} did take off a boat load to sell as scrap towards their funds. They also suggested to the local kids that there was money in it rather than throwing it into the cut! We also had a lot of locals and others turn up,some just through seeing you working. Thanks to Maria for cooking, shopping and organising the catering, to those who did breakfasts, to the van drivers, and especially James who ran around getting van, kit and some people, to Moose and Tim for leading Zones, (who’s he?) and to Martin for helping with all the paperwork.A thousand pardons to anyone I’ve omitted. (God for the weather?) Hope you enjoyed it too. Big thanks again Aileen Butler, WRG BCN Cleanup leader

page 23


to the editor

“Dogs are the least of our worries on site. What about growling locals or barking mad camp leaders?”

Dear Martin As responsible dog owners, we were also a bit alarmed at the ‘frenzied dogs’ on a camp comment. People who have been on camps with Rachael Banyard and myself on, or have read Rachael’s camp reports, will be familiar with our dog, Mina, who enjoys herself immensely on camps. However, we make a point of tying her up during meal/tea breaks so she doesn’t bother people, and while she is free to wander around site in between breaks, we try to ensure that she never gets in the way or causes any sort of safety hazard. She is also a very quiet dog, who rarely barks. In the accommodation she is also tied up. If we go on a camp where Rachael isn’t leading, we ask the leader in advance whether he/she is happy about us bringing her. People bending down next to her might get their ear licked, but generally people seem to enjoy her presence, and even ‘non-dog’ people have always accepted her. The only problem could be where we are working on a site that is also a public right of way, and non-WRG dogs come along Again, if we spot the potential hazard in time, we tie her up! Surely, the answer is that if a dog tends to be excitable, nervous or noisy, that dog should not be brought on camps. Di Smurthwaite Dear Martin I hope this doesn’t come across as defensive as I think that John and Mike have raised a very good point (possibly more). You can probably guess that I would not be easily convinced that banning dogs from WRG sites would not be entirely overkill or yet again H&S gone mad. As in most things a sensible balance and responsible attitude are required from the dog owners AND also from the people who recognised the risk at the time. I am replying as a dog owner having read Mike’s response to John’s letter but not having been on the dig in question or having read the original article (yet) so please excuse any inconsistency because of that. I know that often articles are written or read and two and two make four, other times they seem to add up to an entirely different number. Were the dogs frolicking on site when work was taking place or was it when people were on breaks or before work had commenced? The picture of James & Sandy in Navvies is an example of what I hope most dog owners consider reasonable as it is taken in the car park away from site and Sandy seems very much to have James under proper control. If the site was that slippery or freezing then that would be a danger on it’s own, but certainly worsened by dogs off the lead (even if their owners feel their dogs are obedient) while work is being carried out and regardless of if they were volunteer’s dogs or dogs owned by members of the public as often stray onto site. It doesn’t sound like the risk was missed if there was one but equally was anything said to the dog owners at the time if people felt their dogs were not under control, or were there just mutterings and then it was left for the person writing the article to gently suggest that there may have been a danger present in their own unique way? I know that I am legally responsible for keeping my dog under proper control: that means that if someone was injured as a result of my dog running free when people are working I would be responsible if I had not taken reasonable steps to ensure my dog did not cause an accident or injury. That does not mean because I recognise the responsibility that I think it is a “reasonable risk” for me to take with other people’s safety by having my dog running free or rely on his obedience when people are working. Dog owners clearly need to recognise the risk a dog on site poses as I think most of us do. My personal perspective is that I do not believe that dogs should be off a leash on or near site when work is being carried out; in a situation where people had a choice between risking injury to themselves or a cute furry animal (or for that matter even an annoying, smelly, stupid one) then human nature means that most people would put themselves at risk rather than the animal. I would

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be mortified if someone was injured because I had not taken reasonable precautions so Cam is generally only let off the lead away from site, before work starts or at break times, when the greatest risk he poses is a catastrophic loss of sandwich if someone is daft enough to leave theirs near the ground. Dogs bring the majority of people (but I accept there is a small minority who do not like them) great pleasure on digs and many people would just not be able to contribute if dogs became the vogue target on site. It is not safe to leave them in cars most of the year so they come to site. It is not practical to eliminate risk by banning anything that posses a risk: dog owners need to be aware of the risk their dogs could present, as do all volunteers when working on any site as they are often frequented by members of public walking dogs off leads. There are far greater risks we should keep focus on, so no, lets be sensible, we don’t need to ban dogs from site but we as dog owners do need to make sure they are under proper control when people are working; personally I would take that as meaning either off site if practical or on a lead if near site and away from the actual work area for people’s safety and your dogs. Nic Bennett Dear Martin, With reference to Mr Gunner’s letter in issue 234 of Navvies and, as someone who is allergic to dogs and therefore has a vested interest, I have to say that on the various camps and digs that I have been on, volunteers’ dogs have not been a problem. Admittedly some are better behaved than others; and that goes for their dogs too. We already have a rule that volunteers get one, firm warning if their behaviour is putting themselves or others at risk and, as it is the owner’s responsibility to ensure their dog is not making a nuisance, or a hazard, of itself, I see no reason why this rule cannot be applied to someone whose dog is putting itself or others at risk too. Harder to control are non-WRG dogs: either passing members of the public or, dare I say it, those belonging to the local group’s volunteers. I would be very sorry to see a blanket ban on dogs on digs, which would be a case of the minority spoiling it for the rest. As an aside, I think the photo of Mr Butler and Sandy printed beside the letter is very unfair on both of them - although I am sure it was intended as a generic illustration of a volunteer and dog and not a reflection on them personally. Yours sincerely Gordon Brown Dear Editor I’m surprised and alarmed by the storm my recent lighthearted dog report - sorry dig report unleashed. The doggy atmosphere of WRG has always been one of the draws for me. I’ve had doglessness thrust upon me by the demands of city living and working, but I still suffer terrible dog withdrawal. I love seeing them enjoy a dig and I really feel their general enthusiasm enhances the atmosphere. Dogs are the least of our worries onsite. What about growling locals, snapping brickies and barking mad camp leaders? I strongly feel WRG would be a lesser place without them. Sophie Smith My apologies if I gave the impression that I was suggesting James or his dog Sandy were anything other than well behaved on site. Gordon is correct that I chose the picture as a generic shot, used to illustrate the suggestion by John Gunner in his letter in the last issue that all dogs be kept well away from working sites; also the Navvies photo library doesn’t actually have a photo of an unruly and out-of-control dog. Until anyone can supply such a picture, you will have to make do with the above photo of Blotto the Dog aka Zoe ‘Bubble’ Rogers, taken at the WRG Panto ‘The Wonderful Wizard of WRG’ at Salford in 1998. ...Ed

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Progress Dig Deep

Dig Deep Report

Bill Nicholson brings us the latest from the Dig Deep Initiative which co-ordinates work by mobile groups in the south two visiting groups will dismantle the rest of the lock wall (all those back courses) down to a firm base for rebuilding. The latter will commence and continue during the NWPG and KESCRG summer camps and subsequent weekends into the autumn. Some 25,000 new bricks are on order to be delivered to site during a dry spell. Other tasks include the concreting and rebuild of the top cill and repairs to the bywash and associated spill weirs. If I was to guess at a completion date – September 2010? You will have read elsewhere about work on our other current Dig Deep site Seven Locks. With Lock 4 complete the Dig Deep teams have been working on clearance and tree stump removal from Lock 5 and also form the section of canal below Lock 1 where the W & B Trust have recently been granted permission to work. The W & BCT are working towards the restoration of Lock 2 together with a new tail bridge at the bottom to carry the adopted highway across it. Involving, as it does, negotiations with the Highway Authority (Wilts CC), I am predicting that the obtaining of the necessary

Bill Nicholson

To those new to navvying and as a reminder to the fully initiated, the Dig Deep Initiative involves four mobile working party groups (London WRG, KESCRG, NWPG and WRG BITM) committing themselves to carrying out a certain amount of volunteer work (whether in the form of Canal Camps or weekend working parties) on certain restoration projects in southern England (and Wales!) that have been adopted as ‘Dig Deep Projects’. And thereby hopefully enabling the local canal societies that we are supporting on these projects to be able to commit funds and materials to them in the knowledge that there will be the labour to complete them. The either cold or wet (or both) winter of 2008/9 has limited progress at our current main site, Eisey lock on the Thames & Severn Canal. Here the Dig Deep groups are carrying out a classic brick lock re-build and have been on site since early 2008. During this period we have removed trees, stumps and 3 feet of silt from the lock chamber, rebuilt the upper and lower wing walls, installed the stop plank channels and planks and removed the outer skin of brickwork from the chamber walls. Good progress has also been made on the upper gate recess walls. The work is almost entirely being carried out by Dig Deep with the local teams from CCT working just downstream on Rucks Bridge. Our plans for 2009 are to make substantial progress on re-building one lock wall (and these locks are 90 feet long!). The Trust have purchased new scaffolding which NWPG plan to erect on their May visit Dig Deep: the present. NWPG at Eisey Lock on the Cotswold Canals following which the next

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“We are always looking for new projects to work on” If your society has a project which could benefit from Dig Deep support, get in touch

Dig Deep

We are always looking for suitable new projects to work on If your society or trust thinks that you may have a project which could benefit from Dig Deep support, please give Alan Cavender, Dig Deep Co-ordinator a call. His phone number is 01628 629033 – other details in the directory. To volunteer to help on any of the current projects please check the Navvies Diary and contact the Dig Deep group organiser. Bill Nicholson

Tim Lewis


permissions will be a slow process We await news as to whether Dig Deep are likely to working at this site in 2010 or possibly elsewhere on the canal. The 9th May saw the re-opening of the Loxwood Crossing project on the Wey & Arun Canal. Dig Deep were very much involved with the volunteer stages of this work. Of particular note was the casting of the slab and first courses of the new lock (now known as Loxwood Lock) - three consecutive weeks of summer camps during 2005. In 2006 a similar input plus many more weekends resulted in the lowering and extending of Brewhurst Lock – a job completed both on time and on budget. I was very pleased that the Dig Deep team’s input was fully recognised in both the attractive souvenir brochure and in the speeches made on the day. I really hope that once the Wey and Arun Canal Trust have had time to get their breath and money back we can return to achieve similar results in whatever substantive projects the Trust have lined up for us. I’m working on it – watch this space.


Above: Dig Deep - the past. Early days at Loxwood New Lock, on the Wey & Arun Canal. See front cover for an up-to-date photo of the same lock completed. Below: Dig Deep the future? Having completed locks 3 and 4 at Seven Locks on the Wilts & Berks, we might well find ourselves restoring lock 5, seen during initial stump clearance by London WRG

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Meanwhile down on the Basingstoke, theyÂ’re trying to get Deepcut Locks open again and having second thoughts about Brookwood backpump

Basingstoke Canal

Park. The canal was frozen with the work boats iced in - result no dredging work. Both The winter weather disrupted lock recongroups combined to clear bankside growth struction work, and alternative project work and commence work on a water supply for had to be brought forward in the programme boats. The jetty at Brookwood park has been to avoid cancelling working parties. selected for a water point. Good progress Lock 22 Deepcut: We have concenwas achieved in very cold conditions. The trated on the reconstruction and underpinlength of the north bank of the canal was ning of the lower walls at Lock 22 Deepcut. coppiced and 200m of water pipe installed, a Extensive voids under the flank and return thank you to Graham and Eddie for your walls had been exposed when excavating the teamÂ’s efforts. wing walls of the lock. Ground conditions Canal Society volunteers were again require the provision of steel trench sheets to frozen out of lock 22 and continued with the support the excavations; groundwater plus water pipe at Brookwood, another 200 m, variable water levels due to drainage systems installed, only 130 m to go. entering the canal require almost continual Backpumping: Design and technical pumping when working. reports for back pumping the Brookwood The offside lower wing wall and byLocks were prepared during 2007. The wash channel have been reconstructed up to project has not progressed as the Water coping stone level. The flank and return wall Resources Report has indicated a number of voids have been underpinned, with considalternatives that could provide enhanced erable quantities of concrete required on water supplies. both walls. The original towpath side wing A key factor in deciding alternatives is wall foundations had eroded from under the the capacity available from the Frimley wall, the wall remaining intact but not suppump, but due to structural failures of the ported, this has been underpinned with a Frimley Pump supports this information is more robust foundation. The foundations for not available. an extended towpath side wall have been The BCA and Society are consulting on excavated, but progress on this section is a repairs and re-commissioning of the pump. casualty of the severe conditions as rain frost Pete Redway and snow have prevented delivery of pre-mix concrete on two occasions. Improved conditions have allowed resumption of work on the lock with the brickwork completed, reinforcement and shuttering in place ready for concrete backfill. All underwater repairs were expected to be completed for Easter; final site reinstatement will not affect navigation. Hermitage and Brookwood: Two visiting groups, NWPG and KESCRG, planned to work at Lock 22 and the Hermitage / Brookwood section of the canal, were combined to work on the event site preparaBoats using the reopened Deepcut flight in May tion for the boat rally at Brookwood Tim Lewis

Basingstoke Canal

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...and on the Wey & Arun Canal, they’ve just taken delivery of a new dredger that might just fit under their bridges...


Wey & Arun Canal

automatic bilge pumps in each hull compartment, machine operating cabin, day cabin By the time you read this, the Grand Openand engine compartment, weight 18 tonnes. ing of the Loxwood bridge and lock will only The digger arm goes to 4m below deck level be a distant memory and it will all be just and we did worry that it wouldn’t fit under water under the bridge (cue for laughter/ some of our bridges. Crunch! grimace/scowl *). The Trust has bought the boat using The arrival of our new 50-seater electric proceeds from the 2008 Poddle (our annual visitor boat Wiggonholt caused quite a stir in sponsored walk). On the side the namethe car park on Monday 27th April. Please plate says “Penelope” which was a bit of a see our website for surprise because we rather thought it would photos of the event. Also into the water that be fun to name it Hornet as our 30ft steel day was the Trust’s new workboat. The workboat (ex National Trust) is called Wasp. photo shows it in the Onslow pound on April Talking of The Poddle, this is being 27, 2009 when we used the crane for both held this year on Sunday, 14th June: “Walking Wiggonholt and the workboat which was a to Wiggonholt” will pass through the tranquil pretty slick bit of management – even for us. setting of Wiggonholt village. Proceeds of This ex-British Waterways dredger came this year’s Poddle will go towards the lower from Newhaven Harbour. It had originally gates for Devils Hole Lock. been bought from BW for a particular job Another fund raising event is on Thursbelow one of the bridges in the harbour and day 2nd July at 7.30pm - Mikron Theatre was surplus to requirements. Everything is Company perform Tales from the Thames at hydraulically operated: propulsion, steering, Fishers Farm Park, Wisborough Green. Tickjacks and JCB digger. Specifications: 14m ets (£8) from the Trust office 01403 752403. long, 2m beam, 0.450m draft, 4 hydraulic Sally Schupke stabiliser jacks, engine 2-cylinder Lister *Delete as appropriate diesel, new starter motor and alternator,


Wey & Arun Canal

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Does your local canal society’s news not appear in the Navvies progress section? Why not send us a report?

MB&B, S&N and Wendover

Manchester Bolton & Bury Canal

Pictures by SNCT

Paul Hindle

Members of the Manchester Bolton & Bury Canal Society, together with wrgNW, cleared more of the canal in the Prestolee area on the weekend of March 21-22. On the Saturday morning we removed tree growth from the towpath wall over the ¾ mile from Nob End to Hall lane. Then one group removed tree stumps from the top of the Prestolee Locks, whilst others cleared vegetation from the setts on Nob Bridge. The bulk of the group removed trees and vegetation from the site of the 1936 Clearing vegetation from near the 1936 breach site breach which closed the canal to beyond Bailey Bridge. Mr Mac once again provided tea and lunch from his van. Paul Hindle (MB&BCS)

Shrewsbury & Newport Canals Trust has been holding working parties at Wappenshall, where the junction warehouse has been acquired by the local authority for use as a canal museum and interpretation centre. The excavator is seen carrying out ‘Time Team’ type investigations, while the right hand picture shows the top of the wharf wall uncovered

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mooring wall is now complete except for some backfilling and the work required to April Working Party: On the Friday before blend the end wing walls into the adjacent the working party, we pumped out the worst bank lining. water holes in the ‘dry’ bed and we were reMay Working Party: The final wall warded with a fine weekend that enabled us to section of the Stage 1 mooring wall was due work on dry land! Lining of the canal proto be backfilled and the bank leading to the ceeded well and 20 metres of bed lining and wing walls blended in at each end. The 15 metres of both banks were lined up to coir surplus concrete already used at the wing roll level and filling above the coir rolls comwalls will be covered by hardcore or crushed menced. This latter operation is the slowest concrete, probably finished off with a weak and most laborious task we perform – the spoil concrete surface formed to support the Benhas to be placed in position and compressed tomat and block lining to avoid settlement. using an excavator bucket but it includes a lot The offside bank will be graded to final of manual effort from the top of the bank. If profile with the intention of lining this length the spoil is too wet it is very difficult to place, if for the public to see work in progress over it is too dry is falls down to the bed of the the Festival weekend. canal. Any suggestions will be appreciated. On Friday the line and level of the blindThe formwork for the last mooring wall ing for the mooring wall at Bridge 4 will be set pour was completed on Friday ready for a out ready for Saturday and Sunday when we concrete pour on the Saturday and the form- will be joined by KESCRG. They will be given work returned to store by the Tuesday. We the task of laying the 50 metres long blinding did have a problem during the pour when for the Stage 4 mooring bay that is an extenone of the vibrating pokers got tangled in the sion of the Bridge 4 offside wing wall. This will reinforcement at the bottom of the wall – enable Pete Bowers, when his work parties there were some unusual views of bodies are not on more urgent work, to set up and suspended in the narrow formwork as well dismantle the formwork for casting the base as worries about the concrete setting before and wall sections of this mooring bay. the pour was completed. Eventually, the If there are spare volunteers over the poker was freed. weekend we will continue cutting Bentomat On removing the formwork, all was at Little Tring – there are two 40 metre rolls well – there were no imperfections. At the on the cutting platform ready to cut. Thursday work party, all the tie rod holes For more information see website were sealed and final backfilling can take place at the May working party. Thus the Roger Leishman, Restoration Director

Bert Matraves

Wendover Arm

Lining the Wendover Arm at Drayton Beauchamp

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Dig Report

Is it possible to have an article in Navvies that doesn’t mention dogs? Apparently not...

London WRG and the dead labrador London WRG on the Chelmer Weekends with mild sunny weather and an achievable workload are as rare and precious as work gloves that actually fit, so London WRG knew to be grateful on our April dig at Heybridge basin. Arriving in the London van after dark we tripped along the path to our old friend the Haybay barge, nabbed bunks, and then quickly scampered back in the opposite direction to the pub. Quite a large crowd had already gathered – this was one of our larger digs – and Nigel told everyone a very amusing story about a dead Labrador while we all enjoyed pints of the local nectar, Golden Maldon. Not only had people come from far afield for this dig, we also had two new faces in Nobu and Peter. Cosy bunks are clearly a big draw: if every dig had them, WRG would probably be the size of the Red Cross by now. When Ed and Suzie arrived later we congratulated them on their recent engagement before telling them the story of the dead Labrador. On Saturday we woke to brilliant spring sunshine streaming through the porthole. We hot-footed it to site to find Maldon pretty much the same as we’d left it back in November. Clapperboard cottages: check. Boat masts clattering away: check. Sunshine and a brisk salt-laden breeze: check. Today there were manholes to be dug to access the pipes we’d laid on the Bonfire bash. Not fancying spade work, Mel, Helena and Suzie and I found a job bashing the rust off a boat with hammers. There was more rust than there was boat, which meant this task took us most of the weekend. A nearby boatman in overalls eyed us nervously: “Are you ladies planning on sanding that boat? Just I’m painting mine this afternoon.” “And I’m varnishing my mast,” piped up a glamorous woman in a beret in the boat next door. Eventually a compromise was reached based on wind direction. People can be very amenable to compromise when

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negotiations are conducted by four women with hammers. Later we got quite chatty with the man painting his rather elegant wooden boat. “Are you volunteers? Where do you come from?” “We’re London WRG. We come from Birmingham, Southampton, Burton-on-Trent and Oxfordshire,” we explained. “Not London then?” “No.” We worked on in the mild spring sun, talking of men and the many things wrong with them. Meanwhile the diggers continued chewing up the towpath as eight man holes were dug, lined and covered under the supervision of Roy the Local. Work continued until relatively late, then there was time for a blissfully hot

Elanor digs a hole for the water pipes

shower aboard before sitting down to an excellent pie cooked by Maria. A number of brave souls took shore leave to visit the pub again, which was livelier on Saturday though we were not. Helen’s little Bruv admitted that no he hadn’t heard the story about the Labrador yet. Later back at the barge my cabin turned into a sleepover as debate continued about the utter wrongness of men. Suzie showed us her magic pillow which speaks with the voice of Steven Fry, then we all fell asleep. Helena, cursed with dig insomnia, said we all snored. Next day we hit the boat a bit more with hammers and holes began to get filled in. The weather continued glorious and we all enjoyed having the use of a proper onsite toilet. Our friendly boatman neighbour joined us for our tea break and told us about his 50-year marriage and his sea trips to the Netherlands and the Highlands. In return we told him a very amusing story about a dead Labrador. There were some very, very exciting chocolate biscuits. We discussed whether the boatman had enjoyed 50 years marital bliss despite or because of his frequent long absences at sea. About to marry, Suzie listened with some interest. “We’re going to finish early at this rate,” Helen mused as tea break ended. “Thank you for the tea. That was a very amusing story about a dead Labrador,” said the boatman shaking out his mug. We worked on for a few hours but the last barrowload of pea

shingle was emptied not much beyond mid afternoon. Such a contrast to our last C+B visit where we worked on well beyond nightfall rushing to finish the task in hand. It had a been a great weekend with marvellous weather and a nice steady working pace. Props go to Helen for leading and also emptying the night toilet, and to Maria for excellent cooking. Sophie Smith

The rest of the girls knock rust off the boat...

...while the men try to bury James

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The Survey

What’s your WRG luxury?

At last: the answers you’ve all been waiting for! Yes, it’s the result of the WRG ‘Desert Island Digs’ luxury items survey...

The Survey No 1: What luxury item do you take on a dig? We asked WRGies what luxuries they just HAVE to take on digs. Results were surprising – it Ear plugs seems WRG is quite happy without thermal 8% Real Coffee jim jams (0% of those polled needed 20% theirs on a dig) but over 20% can’t None - luxuries are for survive without real coffee. “Dogs cissies are a necessity NOT a luxury” wrote 20% one respondent indignantly, but only 4% of respondents needed their faithful hound. Almost half had to have their Sad old dog from deluxe Therm-a-Rest rescue home sleep mat. No, this 4% survey was NOT sponsored by Therm-a-Rest! A Deluxe model Therm hardcore 20% eschew a-Rest 48% all luxuries, presumably 48% sleeping on a bed of nails and drinking Tesco Value lager just to show how tough they are… Other necessities nominated ranged from pillows to Ordnance Survey maps (spot the anorak) and the ever-popular ‘money for beer’, which I think many people would class as a necessity rather than a luxury! Next issue’s survey Who’s your WRG hero? Nominate them here:




Who’s your WRG hero? Take part in our next Navvies survey See

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“Either leave your valuables out of sight or hang them on the wing mirror where the thief can nick them without having to break our vans...”

Navvies news Camp reports, please!

Van thefts

...and photographs

Over the past couple of months we have had three vans broken into. On two occasions there were valuables left on display in the front of the van (a handbag in one case and powertools in the other). We know they were on display as on both occasions the items were stolen through the window that the thief broke..... There is an entire lockable section behind the bulkhead: for the hard of thinking, you can get to it from the handy doors you will find at the back of the van.... Please use it. You should assume anything you leave in the front seating area will get stolen, so rather than leave your valuables on the seats/dashboard etc, please either lock them in the back out of sight or hang them on the wing mirror where the thief can nick them without having to break our vans! Secondly, we have also been the victim of ‘spare wheel theft’. This is apparently very common, so don’t forget to check the spare wheel under the back of the van. After all, it may be inconvenient to get down on your knees at the start of a journey, but it will be far more inconvenient if you discover it is missing when you get a blow out on the motorway.... Bungle

Those of you who take a camera with you on canal camps: please remember to (a) take plenty of photos (b) send them to the editor for Navvies and (c) send them to Jenny Black at IWA Head Office for next year’s canal camps brochure. We don’t mind if you send them on CD (or DVD), email them, or put them on a photo website and send me a URL, but if you’re planning on sending more than a few megabytes by email to Navvies, the editor would appreciated it if you sent an email first warning him. But the most important thing is to send them. And if you really want to be smart, send the odd one that’s in ‘portrait’ (ie tall) format, with not too much important detail in the top one-third of the photo, and you might just find it ends up on the front cover. The Editor

Camp reports...

The main summer Canal Camps season will WRGNW build a bywash outfall at Lichfield soon be upon us - shortly followed by the season for writing Canal Camp reports and sending them in for Navvies. We would very much like to include a few of them in the next issue, even though it’s due to go to print within a few weeks of the first camps, because otherwise we have to fit them all in the following issue and might end up running tight on space. So if you want to make sure your report gets into Navvies in complete original uncut form, please send it in as soon as possible.

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NOTICEBOARD Online Navvies subscriptions Don’t forget: You can now take out or renew Navvies subs online at or at products.asp?cat=126

Directory update

Ian Edgar of IWPS (Bugsworth Basin) has moved to Top Lock House, Lime Kiln Lane, Marple SK6 6BX. Tel: 161 429 7402, mobile: 07710 361093, email Our apologies for once again including an incorrect email address for WRG Boat Club contact Sadie Dean in the last Directory. It should be The next full directory of WRG and canal society contacts will appear in Navvies 236. Please send any additions, updates and corrections to the editor.

Dial-a-camp To contact any WRG Canal Camp: 07850 422156 (Kit ‘A’ camps) 07850 422157 (Kit ‘B’ camps)

Stamps wanted

Send used stamps, petrol coupons, phone cards, empty computer printer ink cartridges to IWA/WRG Stamp Bank, 33 Ham-bleton Grove, Milton Keynes MK4 2JS. All proceeds to canal restoration.

Thanks... Chris Griffiths of Stroudprint for his help with printing this issue

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Moving house Rick and Harri Barnes have moved to: 11 Lawns Par, North Woodchester, Stroud GL5 5PP. Izzy Rutter has a new email address: If you move house, don’t forget to tell Navvies

Congratulations to Ed Walker & Suzie Pounce on their engagement also to Clive & Jo Alderman on their marrage and to Mark and Jane Bennett on their marriage

New arrival

Congratulations to Gilly & Steve Liput on the arrival of Ben Andrew Liput on April 16 weighing 7lb 3oz Contacting the chairman: Mike Palmer 3 Finwood Rd, Rowington, Warwickshire CV35 7DH Tel: 01564 785293 email:

“Do you know what happens if you google ‘grease nipples’? John does...” The Jane and John Stories Episode 3: John gets lost on the internet John is in trouble. He promised to book himself and Jane onto a summer camp and forgot. Jane is not very happy. Do you know someone who spends all day thinking about Landrovers and not getting on with their jobs? Jane does. John decides that the only way he can get them booked on in time is to use the internet. John doesn’t like the internet very much, he once used it at work to try and buy some parts for his Landrover and got into trouble. Do you know what happens if you google ‘grease nipples’? John does. Do you know what an official verbal warning is? John knows that too...  John decides to go and visit Miss Twitterlot. Miss Twitterlot is a young lady and knows all about computers, she uses them to do hard sums at work.  John tells Jane where he is going. “You be careful, John” says Jane. “That Miss Twitterlot has a reputation you know”. John arrives at Miss Twitterlot’s house. “Hello Miss Twitterlot”, says John. “Can you show me how to book a camp on the internet?” “Yes, but call me Helena. Now come upstairs with me and we’ll settle down comfortably.”  John looks worried. “Come on”, says Helena, “there is nothing to be scared of, the computer is in the spare room, but there is only one chair so you may have to sit on the bed.” They go upstairs together and sit in front of the computer. Helena talks John through using Google, John does a search for ‘excavators’. He gets back lots of links, including some unusual ones from other countries. He gets very excited and asks if he can take some of the pictures home on his floppy disk. “Oh no,” says Helena, “those pictures won’t fit on there, floppy disks are very old fashioned. Don’t you have a memory stick we can plug into the USB port?”  John has a rummage around in his bag. It is full of odds and ends, some sweet wrappers and broken pencils, he normally has his lunch in there too. Right at the bottom he finds an old memory stick and he plugs it in.  


More from Jane & John Once the pictures have been downloaded, Helena moves onto more advanced subjects including Myspace and Facebook. Helena pokes her friend Steve and then proceeds to have an online chat with him. John waits patiently until she finishes, then Helena shows him some of the other features of Facebook. John is a bit confused by social networking, so Helena goes back to something more straightforward and shows him some blogs. John discovers a new world of people saying ever more about ever less. There were one or two good ones though, including one by a chap called Bruce who claimed to be insane. John is very impressed and decides to order a computer of his own. Helena helps him choose one and he orders it. The he looks at the time. “Oh dear”, says John, “thank you for helping me but I am really late for my tea and I must go home.” John returns home and realises that he forgot to take his door keys with him. He knocks on the front door, Jane opens the door.  “What has taken you so long, John?” asks Jane suspiciously. “I am very sorry,” replies John, “we spent some time looking at specialist photographs on the internet, some of the pictures I saw were of exotic Swedish models. Then Helena told me my floppy was too small, but I rummaged around in my lunchbox and found a stick that I put into her port. Then I had to sit on the bed and wait whilst she poked her friend Steve, it was very frustrating. Afterwards she went on myface and I got a bit confused. So then she showed me lots of pictures of different laptops and I picked the one I liked? See Jane slam the door.  “Oh dear,” says John, “after all that I forgot to go to the wrg website and book us on the camp? See Jane open the door, see Jane poke John, with an umbrella (still in the stand). See Jane slam the door again, on John’s foot. “Don’t worry, Jane!” calls John. “I have ordered a computer with a webcam and Helena has offered to help me with it.” See Jane open the door. Run John, Run...

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The complete Navvies guide to how to get around the WRG ban on dogs that nobody’s going to introduce anyway...

How to hide your dog on a dig

And still more on man’s best friend...


J did you? I don’t suppose you thought you’d get away with a dog-free ‘Infill’ page this time, Well, while the pros and cons are being debated on the letters page, Gerald Cruncher of the Orkney Canal Trust has taken a more practical approach: I read with interest of a possible ban of dogs on WRG sites. It occurs to me that in the event that this happens, those still wishing to take dogs to site could easily get around the ban using simple methods of disguise. I have illustrated some of the more obvious ones. However I feel the Burco would make a poor hiding place (a) as the dog would become overheated and jump out of the Burco, revealing itself and (b) for reasons of hygiene...

Dog disguised as wheelbarrow

Puppy hidden under helmet

Dog disguised as ugly baby

Dog disguised as coping stone

Dog hidden in bucket

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Dog with periscope concealed under water

Dog hidden in Burco (not recommended)

Have you a personal problem that you want to share with us all in Navvies? Why not write to Deirdre?


WRG’s agony aunt returns

Dear Deirdre, I’m having terrible trouble with my camshaft. I’ve tried all

kinds of lubricants but here’s a problem with stiffness which is really affecting my performance. Just the other day I was giving a young WRGie a lift home from a dig and she made a comment which I thought rather disparaging. I’m at my wit’s end – can you advise? - WG, by email Deirdre writes: this is a problem which affects many men. Fortunately I receive regular emails which promise ways to alleviate the problem. I’ll forward them to you.

Dear Deirdre, I was widowed several years ago, shortly after my re-

tirement. Fortunately my local WRG group have really offered companionship, and my spaniel Butch enjoys coming along on digs. I’m becoming puzzled however by some comments made by a lady about my own age, recently divorced, who brings her golden Labrador Ruby to digs. She’s been suggesting they might like to become closer and makes strange comments about how life can be very lonely for old dogs. I’ve repeatedly told her that Butch has been ‘done’ and her bitch is clearly too old for a litter, but she keeps making these suggestions. What can I do? - JS Deirdre writes: I think your communication problem might be solved by a heavier consumption of alcohol at your next WRG social. I suggest you buy the lady a drink and explain that dogs often go a bit deaf as they age, but repeated licking of the ears can get their attention. I’m sure she’ll get the message, even if you don’t. Let me know how you get on. Have you a question for Deirdre? Write to the editor or email

WRGieotypes No 10: The Thing found in the BCN Is it a bird? Is it part of a plane? It lies on the towpath, black and stinking. "Oh, that'll be a truck engine," Tom says authoritatively, removing his grappling hook. "But that doesn't explain those squashy bits round the edge," Janice points out. They kick it across the towpath where it sits leaking rainbow-speckled oil. "Maybe it's a disability vehicle," Mike speculates. "Look, that could be the steering wheel." Eventually everyone gets bored and moves on.

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Profile for The Inland Waterways Association

Navvies 235  

Navvies 235. Magazine for volunteers restoring the waterways

Navvies 235  

Navvies 235. Magazine for volunteers restoring the waterways