volunteers restoring waterways
navvies Focus on the
Plus camp reports: Cromford, Cotswold, Basingstoke, â€˜Driff-Pockâ€™
waterway recovery group
Issue No 267 October-November 2014
page 2 Ralph Mills
Visit our web site www.wrg.org.uk or find Waterway Recovery Group on Facebook for all the latest news of WRG's activities Production Editor: Martin Ludgate, 35 Silvester Road, East Dulwich London SE22 9PB 020-8693 3266 email@example.com Subscriptions: Sue Watts, 15 Eleanor Rd., Chorlton-cum-Hardy, Manchester M21 9FZ Printing and assembly: John & Tess Hawkins, 4 Links Way, Croxley Green, Rickmansworth, Herts WD3 3RQ 01923 448559 firstname.lastname@example.org Navvies is published by Waterway Recovery Group, Island House, Moor Rd., Chesham HP5 1WA and is available to all interested in promoting the restoration and conservation of inland waterways by voluntary effort in Great Britain. Articles may be reproduced in allied magazines provided that the source is acknowledged. WRG may not agree with opinions expressed in this magazine, but encourages publication as a matter of interest. Nothing printed may be construed as policy or an official announcement unless so stated - otherwise WRG and IWA accept no liability for any matter in this magazine. Waterway Recovery Group is part of The Inland Waterways Association, (registered office: Island House, Moor Road, Chesham HP5 1WA), a non-profit distributing company limited by guarantee, registered in England no 612245, and registered as a charity no 212342. VAT registration no 342 0715 89. Directors of WRG: Rick Barnes, John Baylis, George Eycott, Helen Gardner, John Hawkins, Dave Hearnden, Jude Palmer, Mike Palmer, Jonathan Smith, Harry Watts. ISSN: 0953-6655
© 2014 WRG
Contents In this issue... Comment some questions to answer 4-6 Coming soon Christmas camps 7 Feature the Chesterfield Canal 8-29 Camp reports Cromford, Swansea and Basingstoke canals 20-29 Diary canal camps, weekend digs, CRT and IWA one-day working parties 30-35 Caldon40 reopening anniversary 36-37 Progress roundup 28-40 Letters what’s that in Somerset? 41 Camp reports Cotswold and the combined Driffield and Pocklington 42-49 WRG BC the Shackerstone disaster 50-52 Training report from the Wilts & Berks 53 Driver Authorisation refresher 54-55 Noticeboard lots of new arrivals 56 Infill the least inspiring canal 57 Tess Hawkins an appreciation 58-59
Contributions... ...are always welcome, whether handwritten, typed, on CD, DVD or by email. Photos welcome: digital, slides, prints. Please say if you want prints back. Digital pics are welcome as email attachments, preferably JPG, but if you have a lot of large files it’s best to send them on CD or DVD or to contact the editor first. Contributions by post to the editor Martin Ludgate, 35, Silvester Road, London SE22 9PB, or by email to email@example.com. Press date for issue 268: 1 November.
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Photos on opposite page taken on summer camps at (clockwise from top left) Swansea, Bowbridge, Newport, Basingstoke, Inglesham, Lancaster. Front cover: Chesterfield Canal at Staveley (see feature, p8-19) Back cover top: Caldon 40 celebrations, with survivors of the 1974 reopening at the left Bottom: London WRG on the Somersetshire Coal Canal
What will we do if somebody offers us 100 million to restore a few canals?
A few questions... Not-the-Chairman’s Comment Mike Palmer’s away on holiday as I finish this issue, so instead of his Chairman’s Comment you’ve got some ramblings from your editor, followed by a ‘guest comment’ from one of our camp leaders. Both of us are asking a few questions - so feel free to write in with your views, suggestions, arguments or whatever, and let’s see if we can get some discussions going. It’s what our Letters page is for. We’ll start with the most general question about canal restoration, and work down towards the nitty-gritty of WRG organisation. And the most general question is...
Are we ready?
Millennium than pre-Millennium. It’s just that there’s been the odd rumour that in the coming years the Lottery might be going for another Millennium-type programme of major, eye-catching, landmark, iconic (insert current buzzword adjective here) projects. And having heard these rumours, I started worrying: if it does happen, will the canals be ready for it? I’m not knocking the current schemes here, it’s just that we’ve been continually moving on to restoring canals that are more and more difficult, as each canal is completed. So how many current projects are there that would (a) appeal to a funder looking for ‘landmark’ schemes and (b) be at the point where a full package to complete them can be put together and carried out within five years of the money becoming available and (c) be capable of being completed with the sort of money likely to be available? And if there aren’t many, what can we, the volunteer restoration movement, do to help more of them get to that point?
That’s ‘we’, the waterway restoration movement in general. Not far short of two decades ago, the National Lottery was first on the scene and ready to dish out large wedges of cash to deserving causes. One of the first things it did was set up the Millennium Fund - and waterways did rather well out of it. The Rochdale, Huddersfield, Scottish Lowland How do we choose? Canals (Forth & Clyde and Union) and the Ribble Link were all completed faster than And that leads on to another more immedianyone had hoped, thanks to the Millennium ate question. Our summer Canal Camps are Fund (plus matching funding from elsewhere oversubscribed - not just in terms of more - mainly regeneration type grants). volunteers than camps, but also in terms of Since then the canals haven’t done badly by any measure - the Heritage Lottery Fund has paid a large chunk of the money to finish the Droitwich, is providing the half the funding for the current Cotswold Phase 1 project, and has awarded many smaller grants. But there hasn’t been anything quite the same as the Millennium, when something approaching 100 million of Lottery money led to the opening of over 100 miles of canal. Not that I’m complaining that we’re being hard done by - canals have still Standedge, Millennium success. Could the same happen again? done better for funding post-
“I challenge the notion that WRG can’t handle the expanded camp schedule. But I believe we need to think outside the box.” more canal societies asking to host more camps than we have the resources to support. A chance remark in a discussion about 2015 camps led me to wonder - how should we decide between them? Support the ones with the biggest chance of getting to the point where the Lottery might be able to throw twenty million into completing them (as per above)? Or support those that appear to have rather less rosy prospects, on the grounds that they need our help the most? Support as many as we can? Or concentrate on making a real difference to a few?
How do we make it work? In this case I’m back to ‘we’ meaning the whole movement - ourselves, the canal societies, IWA, local authorities and the Canal & River Trust (CRT). One of the camp reports in this issue is somewhat critical of CRT’s dealings with the camp. I make no apology for printing it, warts-and-all - after all, what use is there in printing a report saying that everything went swimmingly if it didn’t? But I also get no pleasure from this I’m not a ‘told you so’ CRT-basher. I know we’ve worked well with CRT and its predecessor BW on many occasions. It’s deeply frustrating that (especially when we have tricky questions like the previous two to answer, in the context of not having the resources to support all the restoration work we would like to), we waste effort because we can’t seem to manage to work together to run a canal camp. But whilst the author makes it clear (and I’ve no reason to doubt him) where he feels the responsibility lies, there’s no harm in us looking at whether WRG can do things better too. Which is where I hand over to camp leader Sophie Smith to ask the final question... Martin Ludgate
Comment ...and a few more... about that statement since. His point was not that WRG lacks leaders, assistants or cooks but that there aren’t enough MUPs [‘MUP’ = ‘Most Useful Person’ - an experienced volunteer who is able and willing to take the pressure off the leaders by helping them with whatever they need helping with] to go around, now that we’ve expanded the number of camps we’re running to include a third circuit - in other words, running three week-long camps at the same time for much of this summer’s programme. It’s certainly true that having an experienced WRGie or two on your camp is very valuable. Having a few people around who know the routines and procedures of a camp really helps reduce the workload for leaders and makes it easier to delegate jobs without having to explain them in detail. This isn’t only on site. Trivial things such as filling water containers get done more smoothly when there are experienced WRGies around.
The main problem A WRG camp can be very, very draining. It’s a tough week for any participant and it’s a serious undertaking for anyone in the leadership team. I find it hugely satisfying to be involved in running camps but I hesitate to commit because it is so very demanding. I’m also aware that I’m not the only one who hesitates to help out more because of the demands it places on you. In some cases people haven’t got the stamina or the holiday allowance for a full week. I challenge the notion that WRG can’t handle the expanded camp schedule. But I believe we need to think outside the box. I’ve come up with some ideas to help us stretch our experience across the expanded programme – have you any ideas to share?
Can WRG handle Kit C?
“I don’t think WRG can handle Kit C”, an experienced WRGie said to me on a camp this summer. I’ve spent a lot of time thinking
My suggestion is to try and spread the more experienced WRGies around a bit more. What I am proposing is for experienced
WRGies to be invited to join camps for the start of the week to kick things off. It’s terrific if they can do the full week, but having that experience on hand for the first few working days is enough to get the camp off to a good start and set the tone for the rest of the week. I propose the role of ‘visiting MUP’ would last from Saturday afternoon to Monday night. This covers the first two days on site, gets the camp moving and sets the tone for inexperienced volunteers in terms of site safety and the domestic routine. It’s important that we make it clear these are a LIMITED number of spaces deliberately reserved for part-time volunteers. We don’t want a situation where too many people are booking on and taking places that would otherwise be occupied by volunteers who were there for the week. This would leave the camp unexpectedly short of people. The number of ‘part time’ roles needs to be pre-agreed with the leadership team. From speaking to several WRGies, I know there are several who don’t feel able to commit to a full week for a variety of reasons. The visiting MUP role would bring in experienced WRGies who don’t feel they can handle a full week’s camp for whatever reason.
joined for two days and prepared meals for four days. It was a tough few days in the kitchen but it meant most of the catering and shopping for the week was done and one less thing for the leaders to worry about. I’m aware other cooks have tried something similar this year too. I’ll try and put together a proposed ‘Power Cook’ plan of action so camps that find themselves without a cook can at least get this boost at the start of the week if they can rope in the support at the beginning of the week. I’m prepared to help out at several camps next year by trying this again.
I’ve noticed a particular lack of cooks this year. It’s very difficult to run a camp without a cook because you do need that domestic support. One of the Inglesham camps was in need of a cook this year. I wasn’t able to help them out for the full week, so instead I
All of these ideas are based on one idea: not making experienced WRGies commit to a whole week. Whilst it’s always preferable have a full team over the week’s camp, there are experienced WRGies who could participate more if we removed the obligation to do so for a whole week. To respond to the demands of Kit C, we need to spread our resources around better. Has anyone any further ideas for how WRG can adapt to meet the challenges of Kit C? Sophie Smith
I’ve run camps without an assistant leader on a few occasions and the paperwork is a serious drain on time. What I propose is to create a role for a part-time administrator who could swing by the camp to handle all the necessary fridge temperature checks and van checks, go through the hygiene requirements with the cook etc. This would suit some WRGies who aren’t physically fit enough to assist with a camp but still want to help out.
The recent project to restore Black Jack’s Bridge on the Grand Union: a fine example of WRG / CRT working well together
Editor’s note: before all you regular leaders say so, I know one or two of these ideas have already been aired either at the WRG committee meeting or the leader training day, but I think Sophie’s ideas deserve a wider audience. Please feel free whether you’re an old hand, a new volunteer, or whatever - to comment on these thoughts.
Have you booked for the Reunion Bonfire Bash on the Chesterfield? If not, and you want to come, send off the form on page 19 now!
Coming soon Reunion and Christmas
WRG Reunion Bonfire Bash: Chesterfield Canal 8 - 9 November We won’t say much about this here (other than to remind you that it’s happening and that if you want to come, then you’ll need to book on) because we’ve got a two-page spread about it including a booking form on pages 18-19 as part of our 12-page special Chesterfield feature.
KESCRG / London WRG Xmas dig: Thames & Medway 23-24 Nov Led jointly by London WRG and KESCRG, but with anyone and everyone welcome to attend, this annual joint scrub-bash and festive shindig is happening a couple of weeks earlier than usual. That’s to fit in with the availability of accommodation at a brand-new venue for both groups, the Thames & Medway Canal. We’ve been promised ‘a good length’ with ‘a lot to get our teeth stuck into’, working on the canal heading eastwards from Gravesend. We’re continuing the work from a section that’s already been cleared and rewatered, making it a very worthwhile project. The accommodation is at Higham Memorial Hall, School Lane, Higham ME3 7JL - but as we don’t get access until 10.30pm on Friday some folks will be meeting a couple of miles away at the Copperfield pub in Gravesend Road, Shorne DA12 3JW first. As ever there is a fancy dress party and fun & games on Saturday evening - this being the first time in living memory that KESCRG (which nominally stands for ‘Kent & East Sussex Canal Restoration Group’) have actually worked in Kent, the theme is anything to do with Kent. We’ll also be remembering the late great Brian Amos (see obituary, Navvies 226) as this was his local canal, so bring your memories of Brian, and if any of you can bring any home-made wine that’s half as dangerous as Brian’s was, then, frankly, we’ll be surprised. To book, send a cheque for £17 (pay KESCRG) to Stephen Davis, 85 Gally Hill Road, Church Crookham, Fleet GU52 6RU and remember to mention any dietary requirements. Contact Stephen on firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.
Cotswold Christmas Camp, 26 Dec - 1 Jan WRG’s Christmas / New Year canal camp this year is on the Cotswold Canals, and will probably involve a fair amount of scrub-bashing plus quite likely some other work too. We’ll be based at the Stroud end of the canal, with the accommodation at the spacious Brimscombe Port, and ‘RAF Martin’ Thompson is the leader. Book for this one in the usual way via www.wrg.org.uk or contact head office on 01494 783453 or email@example.com.
Wilts & Berks Christmas Camp, 26 Dec - 1 Jan Rachael Banyard writes: We shall be holding a camp at Dauntsey from 26 December to 1 January. There will be a variety of work - investigating and sealing a leak above the lock with bentomat, levelling the towpath with an excavator, widening the towpath and replanting if necessary, felling a few trees and trimming the rest of the hedge, so bonfires... Accommodation will be the warm and cosy Foxham Reading Rooms, and we’ll be delighted to see anyone who would like to join us. Now that the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust has purchased the Peterborough Arms beside the lock, we are trying to get the canal finished and tidy. Please ring Rachael Banyard 01249 892289 or 07767 895244 or email firstname.lastname@example.org. See the WRG website and Facebook group for further details of all canal camps.
Focus on the Chesterfield Canal With two camps last summer, the Reunion Bonfire Bash coming up, plans for camps next year, weekend visits by WRG regional groups, and regular working parties every weekend by the Chesterfield Canal Trust’s own volunteer team, the Chesterfield Canal is seeing a lot of attention at the moment. So what’s it all about, then? What is it about the Chesterfield Canal?
Basically it’s a good restoration project, it’s been moving on at a cracking pace recently, with the volunteers shifting up a gear and taking on some major projects, it’s got a good chance of making some real progress in the future - and at the same time, it’s facing threats that could bring the whole lot to a grinding halt. A good project? Aren’t they all good projects? Well, yes - I’m always wary of any idea of ranking restoration projects in league tables. But the Chesterfield’s 46 mile route really does have it all - some splendid rural wateray meandering through rural Nottinghamshire, a stiff climb up to Norwood that involves more locks in a mile than anywhere else in the country, lots of waterways heritage including a 2-mile tunnel (although we’re not sure exactly how long it will end up!), some ex-industrial areas that would benefit from the boost that a restored canal could bring, and a terminus right on the edge of the Peak District. Oh, and a long-term plan to create a new link down the Rother Valley and create a new cruising ring. It’s not an easy restoration: not only has it been hit by the usual problems of roads and buildings constructed on the route since it shut, but it also suffers from the subsidence problems that were the downside of the coal trade which it served. Reopening will include diversions, lots of new locks, a new higher summit level, and a new terminus. But the first of those locks is nearing Restored lock above Worksop completion, a five-mile isolated length at the Chesterfield end has been restored largely by volunteers, and another six-mile length above Worksop was reopened over a decade ago thanks to regeneration funding grants for ex-industrial areas. The ‘missing link’ still to be restored is now down to nine miles. It’s the toughest nine miles, of course, but with support from the local authorities, heritage bodies, regeneration groups, and of course the CCT volunteers backed by WRG, it’s set to make real progress. Or rather, it was. I mentioned a threat on the horizon, and yes, it’s that bloody railway again. Now I’d be a hypocrite if I slagged off railways in general when I use them so much myself - after all, I don’t think Navvies would ever get finished if I couldn’t work on my laptop on the train. But does HS2 really have to slice through five of the nine miles of the Chesterfield’s ‘missing link’, flattening historic features, destroying lengths already cleared, making restoration far harder and (already) ruining CCT’s chances of getting funding grants? Well actually there are recent signs that perhaps it doesn’t. But it’s up to us to keep the pressure on. And one of the best ways of doing that is to keep restoring the canal. That’s the short answer to the above question. Read the following pages for the long one.
Book now for the Chesterfield Canal WRG Reunion...
A Navvies special feature The Chesterfield Canal: where is it?
If you look at the map below, you’ll see that the Chesterfield Canal isn’t one of the more direct of waterways. It leaves the Trent at West Stockwith, heads westwards, then southwards a little, then even wanders eastwards a little bit before finally making its mind up and heading westwards towards Retford and Worksop. Or, to put it another way, it’s a typically early contour canal which followed the lie of the land, avoiding heavy earthworks where possible at the cost of a longer route. A very gentle climb across north Nottinghamshire steepens as it passes Retford and heads for Worksop where the real climbing begins. Thirty locks (most of them built as staircases) bring it to the summit at Norwood, where a 2884-yard tunnel is followed by an equally steep The straddle warehouse spans the canal in Worksop descent to Kiveton. There the locks come to an end, and originally the canal went back to following the contours again - River Trent to the Humber but when the Great Central Railway was built in the late 19th Century, to avoid the need for a large number of bridges where it repeatedly crossed W Stockwith the canal’s winding route, the canal was straightened in several places. Finally, the canal begins climbing again, with five locks raising it up the Rother Valley to Tapton, where it merges Worksop to Kiveton River Trent Drakeholes with the Rother for the restored and reopened in to Nottingham Tunnel run in to the terminus 2002: 6 miles 31 locks not far from Chesterfield (inlcuding 1 extra added) town centre. Norwood Tunnel Kiveton Staveley to Chesterfield restored: 5 miles 5 locks
Killamarsh Worksop Staveley
Kiveton to Staveley unnavigable ‘missing link’ including current restoration sites: 9 miles 14 locks (orginally)
West Stockwith to Worksop saved from closure in 1960s: 26 miles 16 locks Otherwise uncredited parts of this feature are by the editor
...note the date 8-9 November and see pages 18-19 for details
Focus on the Chesterfield Canal The Chesterfield Canal: the restoration story
If the brief description of the restoration on the previous pages made it sound a tricky project, it could have been a whole lot worse - and it’s largely thanks to the Retford & Worksop Boat Club that it isn’t. In the late 1950s and early 1960s the Chesterfield was at a very low ebb. Norwood Tunnel had long since fallen in, a victim of coal mining subsidence, and the canal beyond had been closed for many years. The final freight traffic on the surviving eastern part of the canal had ended, the length leading up to the tunnel was already unnavigable, and the rest looked set to follow soon. The British Transport Commission and its successors British Waterways considered abandoning it. However a few pioneering leisure boaters had started to cruise the canal (sometimes with difficulty), they formed the RWBC which campaigned vigorously to keep it open while BW agreed to a stay of execution, and the upshot was that under the 1968 Transport Act the surviving 26 miles from the Trent via Retford to Worksop were classified as ‘cruiseway’ (rather than ‘remainder’ - to be dealt with as cheaply as possible) and their future was secured. Come the mid-1970s, attention turned to the derelict 20 miles west of Worksop. Chesterfield Canal Society (now Chesterfield Canal Trust) was formed in 1976 to push for complete reopening - initially concentrating on extending the navigable length by restoring the six miles from Worksop to Norwood Tunnel. Unfortunately while BW didn’t actually oppose these aims, its support didn’t extend to permitting any volunteers to work on restoring this section. So despite various reports, meetings, discussions and agreements (which did have the positive benefit of preventing further obstructions - for example the new Worksop bypass bridged the canal with full navigable headroom) nothing much practical was done towards restoring it. Eventually, in frustration the Canal Society looked elsewhere - to the isolated, longabandoned lengths beyond the collapsed Norwood Tunnel. This part was considerably more knocked-about and hard to restore, but at least it had been sold-off by BW so they couldn’t stop volunteers restoring it. And that’s what happened - from the late 1980s to the late 1990s CCT (often supported by WRG) restored and reopened the final five miles and five locks from Staveley to Chesterfield, which had the advantage of having been retained as a water supply to industry, meaning that at least the channel hadn’t been filled in. Not that it was easy, though - a new lock had to be built to replace one lost to opencast mining. While the volunteers were busy at the west end, things finally got moving on the Worksop to Norwood length. Following the demise of the coalmining industry, a special fund set up to support ex-mining areas provided a source of money to reopen this length - and the first boats reached Norwood Tunnel’s eastern portal in First boat into Staveley Town Basin, January 2012 2002.
Restoration: the story so far And meanwhile the volunteers rebuilt the next length of canal at Staveley, leading to the site of a proposed new town basin (which has now been built by contractors) as well as carrying out clearance and bridge rebuilding in the Renishaw area. Then it all got harder. The unnavigable gap is down to nine miles, but includes:
. . . .
Norwood Tunnel - a good two-thirds of which has been wrecked by mining Killamarsh - with 17 houses built on the line while the canal was abandoned Staveley - where a freight railway crossed the line with insufficient headroom Doe Lea - a major embankment across a stream, and the adjacent lengths of canal, have all suffered from subsidence
But all of these can be solved - and enineering feasibility studies have demonstrated how it can be done. A planned diversion around the housing blocking the canal in Killamarsh involves two new flights of locks: one taking the canal The Missing Navigable to down into a nearby lake, the Trent Link: 9 miles and the other bringing it East end of back up to the original left to restore tunnel level. The current thinking to be restored on Norwood Tunnel would Diversion planned with see the eastern third reOriginal route new locks to avoid damstored, then the next bit to be restored aged parts of tunnel opened out into a cutting where the canal would Norwood Locks to be restored climb three new locks to take it up to ground level. Diversion planned with new locks A further flight of new to avoid houses built on the old Another new locks would raise it to a route in Killamarsh lock needed new summit level, a farm crossing would get it unNew Doe Lea embankment der the M1 motorway, and and aqueduct needed a final new set of locks New Staveley Town Lock would bring it back down under construction to meet the old route just past the tunnel’s western Restored to New Staveley Town Basin built portal. A new aqueduct is Chesterfield proposed at Doe Lea. And at Staveley a pair of new locks would allow the canal to drop down low enough to get under the railway, and then bring it back up to the original level on the other side of the tracks. And that’s what we’re doing now. WRG’s volunteers have been supporting CCT in building Staveley Town Lock, the first of these two new locks, and creating the concrete channel walls of the length between the two locks. It’s a job that’s key to the whole restoration, for at least three reasons...
. . .
Firstly, at the most practical level, it will extend the 5 mile navigable Chesterfield to Staveley section, and keep the whole restoration moving forwards. Secondly, it’s the first of what might be as many as 30 new locks needed to complete the restoration of the entire canal (making it one of the most heavily-locked on the network) - so it’s building up skills that will be very useful in the future And thirdly, it’s vital in establishing a length of waterway in the area that’s most at threat from the new HS2 railway. HS2? Ah yes, I was just coming to that...
Focus on the Chesterfield Canal Camp report: Chesterfield Canal Camp 2nd – 9th August 2014 I hadn’t planned to attend a Chesterfield Canal Camp but Colin Hobbs, who was assisting, tempted me with heavy machinery. On Saturday, volunteers arrived at the accommodation at Staveley Miners’ Welfare Club, which was a function room above a lively members’ bar (complete with cheap beer and lively karaoke/bingo nights). A highlight of the first day was the essential and entertaining toolbox talk about the potential pitfalls of the WRG toaster from George (Georgeous). The group then put on their steelies and hi-vis jackets and headed down to the site at the newly built Staveley Town Lock [see previous page ...Ed], where Camp leader Steve Baylis explained the work that would be taking place over the following week. Planned work included blocklaying, demolition of a wall built last year (much to the distress of George and Olivia who built it) to create a hole for a spillweir, as well as some digger digging to create footings for side walls below the lock. A splinter group was also tasked with finishing the steps on Constitution Hill Bridge. After a tool count the group enjoyed bangers and mash followed by Eton mess courtesy of the lovely Georgeous. Day two saw lots of training for the new volunteers which included three Duke of Edinburgh’s Award students. Colin showed the group how to work the generator, set up the mixer and mix mortar for the block-layers, and then provided a training session on using the bricksaw (all with appropriate PPE). A few of the group put on some rather attractive white overalls and painted wing-walls with waterproofing bituminous paint. They did a lovely job. Demolition work also began to create space for a spillweir. The remote controlled Wacker plate also made an appearance before the tired group headed back for spaghetti and meatNorwood
Renishaw: HS2 main line built along canal route
Staveley: HS2 depot on site of new locks
Chesterfield Canal and HS2
The plans for the HS2 high speed railway show it running on or close to the line Killamarsh of the canal for much of the way from Staveley to Killamarsh. This would make it far more difficult and expensive to restore the canal, negate some work already done, and has resulted in the loss of a multi-million pound Heritage Lottery Fund grant to the canal as a result of the uncertainty that it is causing - even though this second phase of the railway won’t be built for many years. Not only that, but the access line to a planned railway depot at Staveley is shown as crossing the canal exactly where the second new lock at Staveley is planned to be built. And yet a few simple changes to the railway plans (basically moving it a few metres to the west) could reduce its impact on the canal to something much more manageable. The good news is that as we went to press, in response to pressure from IWA and CRT, the Government had just accepted a proposed change to the route of the first phase of HS2 so that Fradley Junction where the Coventry and Trent & Mersey canals meet won’t now be overshadowed by new railway viaducts. So the principle of amending HS2 to reduce the impact on canals has now been established. Will the same happen with the Chesterfield when HS2 phase two is debated? We can’t be sure. But it will surely help the arguments in favour if we get some water and boats in the canal in the meantime!
Canal Camp report: the first week balls cooked by the lovely Tina Hobbs. Day three saw four new DofE-ers join the group, who got stuck into mixing mortar after a training session from Colin. Block laying continued in three separate locations. They made progress but there wasn’t enough singing for my liking. I worked on my pointing skills (and filled in the gaps...). Demolition of one of the “some rather attractive white overalls” - ready for applying bitumen paint wing walls continued to make way for a spillweir until a technical gremlin (relating to the Kango hammer) slowed progress. A group of the DofE-ers built and installed shuttering ready for a concrete pour, before we all took a leisurely stroll along the canal back to the accommodation. After dinner (cottage pie followed by rhubarb crumble – thanks to Michelle Baylis) the majority of the group went bowling. One of the DofE-ers, Harrison, kept bowling at more than 20mph, much to the distress of the bowling lane speedometer. I lost. Steve won. On day four, blocklaying, demolition and shuttering continued, and lots of earth moving was carried out by Colin, in his air-conditioned digger (he dug a big hole). Andy Pritchett consumed approximately eight cans of energy drink much to everyone’s concern (although he had a lovely time), leading George to ban energy substances from his Camp the following week. Chris found a traffic cone and put it on his head. Dinner included a chicken and leek pie for dinner followed by bread and butter pudding. Day five saw an early start for the group who were ready and setting up on site at 8:30am. Shuttering was finished, ready for concrete pours in two separate locations and other work continued. We all particularly enjoyed Michelle’s lemon drizzle cake at break time. The group packed up early to recharge their batteries and spend the afternoon at Chatsworth House. We all bundled into the vans and headed into the Derbyshire Dales to visit the home of the Duke and Duchess of Devonshire for a bit of culture. We admired the sculptures (!), searched for the elusive squirting tree, navigated the maze (those of us that managed to find it), ate ice cream, saw the house, and sniggered at the painting of the headless horse as well as the book about good-looking sheep. Chatsworth House provided free entry for the group to the house and gardens so we would just like to say a huge thank you for that. The group then headed to the scenic inland seaside town of Matlock Bath where we ate fish and chips, and drank questionable soft drinks full of E numbers (Although Andy Pritchett seemed to be very happy once again!). After our leisurely afternoon we were all raring to go on day six. The day started well with another fry-up courtesy of Georgeous. The group headed down to site and got every-
Focus on the Chesterfield Canal thing set up, got some block laying, demolition, and digging underway, before enjoying Michelle’s awesome blueberry cupcakes. Kate, Ruth and Charlene set up the table saw and cut grooves into bricks while Harrison and Pablo mixed ‘gobbo/plop’ for the blocklayers. Colin spent some more time in his air-conditioned digger and filled in the hole he dug earlier in the week. Olivia joined the blocklaying team for the day and laid more blocks than George. After lunch a few of us had a taster session in one of the diggers. Colin gave us a brief introduction to the controls, and then we had a go at moving the bucket without upsetting the upright bricks that had been placed inside. Challenge accepted. After a long day, the wing walls at the bottom of the lock were near completion and the steps on Constitution Hill Bridge were finished. After showers, the group had chicken casserole with roasties, followed by rhubarb crumble, jelly and ice cream AND fruit salad. Then some of the DofE-ers set the smoke alarms off by burning popcorn and watching a film. Day seven was the final day on site for the group. Despite a drizzly start to the day, more Trowels in hand and ready to block-lay progress was made to the walls. One of the Chesterfield Canal Trust volunteers, Ralph, brought us Derbyshire delicacies - Bakewell tart and pudding - to enjoy at tea break. The group continued work until about 2pm before finishing for the week, posing for a group photo and eating lunch. In the evening Chesterfield Canal Trust took a group of us on a boat trip along the Canal from Hollingwood Hub to Staveley Town Basin. Unfortunately it was pouring with rain but that didn’t stop a few of us having a turn steering the boat (whilst getting soaked). We then headed back to Hollingwood Hub and enjoyed a buffet dinner with the Trust where CCT’s Dave Kiddy won the prestigious Tool of the Week for walking outside without his trousers. Particular thanks Steve for his leadership of the camp and sharing his port; to Colin for his leadership, training and sharing his cheese; Georgeous for his dinner, daily cooked breakfasts (and perfect eggs); Michelle and Tina for awesome dinners and delicious cakes; and Andy for his mystery tour of Chesterfield. Gemma Bolton
Canal Camp report: week two Camp report: Chesterfield Canal Camp 9th – 16th August 2014 Is it a bad omen when you walk off site on the Friday of the previous week’s camp, and it starts to rain? It certainly felt that way – and the pictures and stories being relayed by the locals as the evening progressed didn’t lighten the mood. So, the start of Week Two. A hardy machine crew (hardy in terms of hours worked, clearly the cab of the excavator was quite comfortable and sheltered from the elements) were down on site to remove the earth ramp that for the last few years has been the access into the site. Unfortunately the earth ramp was doing a rather good job of holding back a metre of water, so the conditions weren’t quite ideal. More on that to come… At the accommodation we had all cleared out of the main hall – a birthday party was using it in the evening and so for one night only we had to use the small hall. When we did a site visit, this room was in temporary use by the caretaker as living quarters and so we weren’t able to view it. However, we were reliably informed that “it’ll sleep 30”. On getting into the room we were rather thankful that three people had cancelled or fallen ill, and several more weren’t arriving (or could be persuaded not to arrive) until Sunday – I can only assume the room would sleep 30 if we used the (round) tables to form bunk beds over the 17 people that did, just, manage to tessellate into the floorspace. The lack of the main hall on the first night made doing a standard safety talk nearly impossible, so we did most of it on a walk around the site. The kitchen was also unavailable but the local pub was doing 2-for-1 meals so we made use of that instead. Rather than contort ourselves back into the small hall early we then did a bit of a tour of all the old haunts from previous camps – seemingly managing to gate-crash a different party at each one (though at least this year it wasn’t a wake!) On Sunday morning we spread out into the luxury of the main hall, all somewhat relieved to regain our personal space. We finished the accommodation section of the talk, dished out PPE, ate and then left for the first day on site Ah, but therein lies a problem. You see, human beings are not especially well designed for working under water. It is clearly one of the design flaws that evolution really should have solved if we are to ever get the canal network operational (and it’d probably make maintenance much simpler). Despite having removed a significant part of the earth bund and pumped out the site, further overnight rain had flooded the work area once more (a slight levels issue means that water can’t actually drain in the direction it is supposed to…). Some people got to work heaving around a multitude of pumps, generators, cables and hoses, whilst others had to be content with doing the kit checks. Just as it looked like we were starting to get somewhere the heavens opened once more and I reluctantly (OK, quite willingly) called a halt to the day and we returned to hall for lunch. At this point we lost one of our volunteers who declared that ‘it’ll be like this all week and you’ll never get anything done’. How wrong he was – eventually! He also missed out on the treat of the week – Christmas Dinner. Our eccentric cooking duo had got Turkey cheap at Easter, and so decided that we should have Christmas in August – complete with crackers, table decorations and a small paper tree! Monday dawned, the early phone call from site asking for “volunteers to man the pumps”. The weather forecast was starting to look up for the week and there was some hope that before long we could start spending more on materials than fuel for the generators... Whilst some of us delighted in wading around thigh deep in water and mud, the majority knuckled down to one of the slightly less interesting jobs of tidying the compound. The 6in blocks came out, the 4in blocks went in; some of the old bricks we have come to know so well over the years building Constitution Hill were finally declared useless (a fact which anyone who has ever tried laying one would have vouched for years ago) and came out for backfill. Pallets were retrieved and new blocks arrived. And the site was DRY!!!
Focus on the Chesterfield Canal
Well, dry-ish. Work could now start properly and so teams started with building shuttering for the next concrete pour, blocklaying and also finding a safer way to continue the demolition started in week one. The day was rounded off by a trip to the local bowling alley where we all struggled to understand how Chris could be so consistently brilliant. We awoke on Tuesday to the pleasant sound of silence (that is, no rain) and indeed the site had remained dry. The focus for the day was to prepare for the concrete pour on Wednesday – so teams were erecting shuttering (after the machines had dug the footings), tying steel for the lock and continuing the other tasks around the site. All of this was ably coordinated by my new Assistant Andy, as I had a prior commitment with my Cromford hat on and so had gone home for the afternoon. The short line above is not intended to belittle the huge amount of effort that went on, the amount achieved that day was incredible (clearly I should leave the site alone more often!). And so to concreting day. Wednesday was looking like a highlight of the week quite early on – every day the quantity of concrete was going up until we were looking at pouring over 90m3. Whilst that might be relatively small on a major construction site it’s quite an undertaking for a group of volunteers, and so once we had finished getting the site ready we gathered around for a pep talk and a last break before the mayhem commenced. This included such vital information as ‘’this is what a clean rake looks like – make sure it looks like this whenever you stop’’ and ‘’if there’s ever a pause come and get a drink as you never know when the next one will be’’. Local Dave Kiddy and I donned the white suits (having been on the end of the tremmie pipe for a previous pour I (a) knew the value of the white suit and (b) didn’t think it fair to subject anyone else to the random nature of the concrete and the pump operator) and greeted the shiny new pump. The concrete company had sent their brand-new-shiny-just-arrived-never-used pump, complete with a representative from the pump manufacturer to show them how it worked. Several executives from the concrete company turned up (although didn’t get out of their vehicles until they’d rung the batching plant to find out why we had no concrete yet – clearly our reputation precedes us). All that didn’t turn up, initially at least, was the concrete! The volunteers dutifully heeded my advice and drank lots of tea, so we were all refreshed when the concrete finally arrived. Task number one was to top up the lock sides and pour the paddle culvert bases – that swallowed 60m3 before we knew it. We then moved to pouring the new footing for the last remaining section of wall on the off side. Some confusion was had here as the person ordering the concrete had specified 30m3 for this bit – but had got mixed up with the footing being 30m long. As such we ended up with a little excess concrete (over a lorry load), but it got added to the paddle culvert bases and all was Building the shuttering... good.
a Navvies special feature
The arrival of a new day allowed us the opportunity to finally lay some blocks on the new footing (the point that I had mistakenly believed we were supposed to be starting at back at the beginning of week one). The machines started to tidy up some of the mess made by themselves and the weather, a team worked on the brick table to cut grooves into the face of thousands of bricks (although the brick table had issues so this was eventually abandoned) and the new method for safe working on the demolition job was tested out. The final day on site was a flurry of trying to finish some of the jobs that had been started. To that end we did more block laying, painted and backfilled behind the new wall built mainly during week 1 and finished (sort of) during week 2 and the demolition crew completed drilling a large hall through a very hard concrete wall. The machinery crew moved mountains of earth (although leaving a mountain in place for Dave France to plant his flag on) and we once again counted tools. At the end of it all we retreated to the Hollingwood Hub via the boat trip for a night of lively revelry (although everyone was so tired there wasn’t that much life to it at all) and then back to the hall for sleep – where I got presented with a ‘birthday’ cake to celebrate the completion of my 40th WRG canal camp. Saturday proved that the fun and games doesn’t just extend to site. Having been told by the hall that we needed to be out by 12 noon we were somewhat surprised by the cleaner turning up at 9am (who incidentally didn’t know we were there but had come to clean in advance of the wedding party later that day). She was followed quite quickly by the wedding party themselves who had been told they could come in at 9am to set up! Thanks to the confusion the kit pack was somewhat more rushed than normal, and the reason why I still have a WRG fork and a soft brush sitting in a box waiting to returned to their rightful boxes. All in all it ended up being a very good week: although slightly frustrating at the beginning the weather picked up and a large amount of useful work was done. The local trust were very pleased – they’d not actually believed we’d get to the concrete pour so everything from there onwards was a big bonus to them. Thanks to everyone who contributed – all of the volunteers: Nicholas (who went for a short drive on the Saturday and ended up in Skegness), Pete, Tina & Colin who all stayed on for a second week, and Phil, Josh, Ju, Henry, Finlay, Robbie, Daz, Michael, Kyle, Ben and Alistair who joined them (Ben some 5 hours early). To Maureen and Lynne for once again proving that the kitchen can definitely be the life and soul of a camp (in more ways than one). To Andy for stepping up to the plate as an Assistant and for managing the people whilst I tried to fathom out the site. To all of the locals who support us year in, year out. This is a project that means a lot to many of us, so we really are thankful and happy to work on it. See you all next year? (Or perhaps earlier?) ...ready for the concrete pour George Rogers
Focus on the Chesterfield Canal Reunion / Bonfire Bash update: 8-9 November, Chesterfield Canal The WRG Reunion is our big annual get-together and working party with 100plus volunteers, also known as the Bonfire Bash - because usually we spend the weekend cutting down trees and burning them on bonfires. But this year there’s going to be a lot more to it besides bonfires, as leader George Rogers explains... The reunion is shaping up well to be a fantastic weekend, so Amber Jenkins and I would like to invite you all to join us on the Chesterfield Canal. To entice you further, the menu of jobs currently looks like: Job: Scrub bashing Job: Demolition (careful dismantling) Site: Renishaw Site: Spinkhill Narrows Leaders: Martin Danks & Matthew Baines Leader: Gary Summers Derbyshire County Council are very keen to get this section of canal back into water, and so the aim here is to clear about 500 metres of canal. This was cleared by a couple of Christmas Camps about 10 years ago so it’s not a think jungle, but a mix of small scrub and mature trees that need thinning out to allow light into the area. Some of the chainsaw gang will be doing the thinning in advance so you’ll have plenty of firewood! Job: Scrub bashing Site: Renishaw-Spinkhill Leaders: Ju Davenport & Stephen Rice
This is a fascinating structure that has a total of 3 outlets for water and 2 sets of stop plank grooves. It was constructed to allow one of the pounds either side to be drained whilst the other continued to supply water to a works nearby. The structure is currently in a poor state of repair and the canal trust wants to restore it to its former glory – starting by removing all of the damaged brickwork and cleaning it for future use. There might also be some scrub bashing to do alongside. Job: Building Site: Renishaw Spill Weir Leader: Pete Fleming
This section is relatively untouched so the scrub is quite a lot thicker here! The middle section of this site has lots of very established trees so this will be the focus for forestry over the weekend - but with about 1km to play with there’s room for lots of people!
This spill weir is adjacent to the first scrub bash area and so falls on the section of canal Derbyshire County Council want to reopen. It is in generally good condition but there are some brickwork repairs to be done, so bricklayers wanted here!
Job: Scrub bashing Site: Norbriggs Cutting Leaders: Andy Pritchett & Dave Nash
Job: Building Site: Staveley Town Basin Leaders: Steve Baylis & Colin Hobbs
This site is separated from the other scrub bashing areas. The Norbriggs Cutting was a branch off the mainline of the canal, and whilst there is not currently any intention to reopen the canal there is a documented plan from the local council to improve the footpath, expose the canal structures and interpret the area – and WRG will be starting that process.
The focus of the camp season for the last few years, work is continuing apace at this site, constructing the new lock, facing the new bridge and constructing the walls to the lower pound. There will be lots of brick and block laying, brick cutting and possibly machine work (though I’m not promising anything!), so for those who don’t quite feel up to the fine brickwork at Renishaw this is the site for you!
For the latest information see the wrg.org.uk or the WRG Facebook page...
Book now for the Reunion! Job: Publicity Site: Renishaw Leader: Mandy Morley
Accommodation: we have booked Killamarsh leisure centre, where George says the main hall is “huge” so we should be able to take as many of you as want to come.
The publicity stand will be based near to all of the works on the Renishaw – Spinkhill section, on the Trans Pennine Trail. The TPT runs through the site at Staveley and connects with most of the sites we are working on, and is well used by the public – so our publicity stand and the Chesterfield Canal Trust’s stand will be out to promote the work we are doing and the impact of HS2. Anyone who fancies trying their hand at talking to the public can join Mandy.
Directions: full joining instructions will be sent out to everyone who books on, including directions to the accommodation and arrangements for train or coach pickups. Booking: Either use the form below or book online via the WRG webite wrg.org.uk. Please do book as soon as possible, so the cooks know how much food to buy.
waterway recovery group Chesterfield reunion 2014 I would like to attend the WRG Reunion Bonfire Bash on 8-9 November Forename:
Address: email: Phone:
Any special dietary requirements?
I require accommodation on Friday night / Saturday night / both nights I enclose payment of £
(please make cheques payable to ‘WRG’) for food
(cost is £13 for the weekend based on £3 breakfast and evening meal, £2 lunch) How will you be travelling to the Bonfire Bash? 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: WRG Reunion Bookings, WRG, Island House, Moor Road, Chesham HP5 1WA ...or contact head office on 01494 783453 or email@example.com
Camp Report Cromford Canal Camp 2014-07: 19 -26 July Cromford Canal: Smiths lock. The task is to clear a dry lock of 2 feet of silt to enable a survey
Prologue It’s Wednesday before camp and we are at an urgent meeting. It appears that there are whitethroats flying around and the environmental chappie says we must limit our access at the tail of the lock to a 3ft wide path. We are also told that we can’t have a hoist to lift everything out of the lock because the walls might not support it. It won’t barrow out of the access we are allowed. Friday night before camp there are thunderstorms. The site visit on Saturday evening shows a ‘dry’ lock in flood and vegetation taller than many of us. The
A lock chamber to clear, nowhere safe to put a barrow hoist, and no room to wheel the barrows out. Things can only get better... mood is sombre. On the bright side we have excellent accommodation. Rooms sleeping six in bunks, showers, proper kitchen, a beer fridge and a drying room. There is a whiteboard for management things, and armchairs.
The main event Weather report. No more rain. Hot – all week. First task of the day, get the key to the haulage yard allowing use of their toilets. Without this we could go no further – in fact we couldn’t go at all. There was a high risk of dropping it, so we put string through it so it could be wrapped around a wrist and used securely. There were five tons of sand waiting by the road. They were turned into sandbags and wheeled to the lock an hour after lunch.
The sandbag dam, with its three pipes
A nice set of wooden steps, with handrail, had been made to allow access so the sandbags were taken down them and a dam built. Three pipes built in, as the only way to keep the water running to the nature reserve at the other end. We had planned for one pipe but the flow was too much. There was not enough pipe to take the water beyond the lock. It was a good dam, made whilst in flood, with only minor leaks. The many crayfish liked those, and made them bigger. A pump was needed to clear water in the mornings and throughout the day. Sunday was a trip to the ‘Fishpond’ at Matlock Bath. It was their inaugural ‘open mic’ night, and it would appear we had no one with those talents. Some beer was quaffed. We got on with clearing the vegetation, grappling hook and the bags the sand came in worked well in the absence of a hoist. More pipe came in good time and was put in place. The lock could start to dry out a bit now. Monday evening saw a trip to Leawood Pumping station, where river water from the Derwent was turned into canal water for the Cromford. Not quite water into wine, but impressive. There were a few different routes found to finish up in the Boat Inn, Cromford. One was Sheep Pasture Incline, three quarters of a mile at 1:8.5 gradient. On the long route to the Boat we were such an impressive body of people I was asked by a local if we were a walking group. We passed one pub that even your intrepid reporter feared to enter – ladies’ darts night. Some beer was quaffed. By Tuesday evening the vegetation was cleared, and a trip to A&E revealed a hospital with free parking. We had also established that the dry lock had about a dozen fish of 3 to 4 inches long living in it. They were safely re housed. A conveyor belt was delivered, but we could not fit it into the access we had. A sense of frustration pervaded as we put it to storage in the haulage yard. Some of the group made a trip to the cinema to watch Dawn of Planet of the Apes. Others quaffed beer. Wednesday didn’t quite follow the norm for a WRG camp. A day off. A trip to the lock was made to meet with radio journalists – who failed to show. The rest of the day was spent at Chatsworth House because of concerns over lack of hire equipment (leaders, not workers) and everyone had worked exceptionally hard to get to the stage we
were at in very hot weather. It was a restful day and we felt the camp benefitted from it. We were refreshed and keen to start again. There was an early evening boat trip along from the accommodation, picked up ten paces from the accommodation door and then a ride to the Barley Mow, who we had booked a meal with. Unfortunately they remembered we were coming but forgot to cook the curry. A la carte it was then. The mega burgers really were huge, and impressively finished off. Some beer was quaffed. Thursday finally saw the arrival of the skip, and more wheelbarrows. There was also a French tricolor found flying off the gazebo. You probably guessed the key with a nice bit of string was going to be dropped anyway. Today was the day we had to go to the office and ask for the key back. Rope was working really well today. All day yellow buckets were hoisted by hand full of silt and water – mud, heavy mud. They were emptied into wheelbarrows to be wheeled three hundred metres away - all day. At the other end of the lock, rocks were being rolled into the sand delivery bags, and hoisted by grappling hook and rope. They were also wheeled away. A back breaking day and very muddy for all. We also made another ton of sand bags. We went to a pub in Matlock for the evening. It had a sandpit with more impressive toys than we had. Some beer was quaffed. More of the same Friday morning. Our winches were feeling the pace now, with the odd blister and tired arms. The haulage yard was an asset. We enquired and were given access to the pressure washer. Vans and tools were sparkly for the next week. It was the last night and we were off to the local rep’s house for a bbq. This was a relaxing and enjoyable evening to finish off the week with our new friends. What seemed a long walk towards the food was even further in the dark down the towpath coming back. Food was eaten, fire was played with and a range of drinks quaffed. I haven’t mentioned that all through the week we were kept going with homemade cake and excellent meals, for which our thanks go to the cook, Andy.
Epilogue Week two takes over, decamping to rather less grand accommodation. Gavin Darby
Camp Report Cromford Canal
In an effort to take the prize for this year’s most novel canal camp report, Cromford Week 2 is recorded in the style of a travel review website...
Camp 2014-10: Cromford Canal 27 July – 2 August During week two we finished the work started by the previous camp. By the end of the week we had removed enough of the mud to allow a laser survey of the lock to be completed. We decided to write our camp report in the style of a travel review site...
digadvisor.co.uk UNITED KINGDOM
Cromford Canal Camp Week 2 at The Scout Hut, Crich Accommodation *** Food ***** Enjoyment **** “The mud.......” You didn’t need to pack sun cream as the complimentary mud did the job just as well. The mud varied in consistency and colour to suit all tastes. Indeed the conditions on this camp reminded me very much of a World War 1 battlefield – lots of mud, sandbags, duckboards and loud explosions during the night. Some of the old hands said that the conditions here reminded them of stories they had heard about the mud encountered in Droitwich a long time ago. One was even heard to say that the mud wobbled enticingly..... - Savvy Navvy, UK Leader’s Response: I fear that some of the team members did suffer from too much sun and/or mud during the early part of the week and did start to say some rather strange things.
“Anyone for seconds?” Anyone for seconds, thirds, fourths? The food was good and plentiful. Even our assistant leader Chris was very happy with the amount of food available. Great cook (Sarah) and leaders (Steve & Chris) on this camp. - Pat, Coventry “Some like it hot....” We had use of lovely new showers at the brand new site compound for the reservoir being built close by. However, the water was either too hot or too cold. - Sewer Rat, Warks. “....and some do not” I agree with Sewer Rat, the water was much too hot. - Crayfish, USA “Somebody else is in hot water” When I went to use the showers, one of the site foremen said ‘Look at the state of that‘. Not once but twice! I was flabbergasted. I don’t think he should speak to a young lady like that. - Coral, Reef Cornwall Leader’s Response: I agree. However, I think the gentleman in question was just surprised to see anyone covered in so much mud from head to toe.
Mud? What mud?
“Entente Cordiale” Great stay! It feels good to help on a project, to experience a people and a culture. Superbly good food. (With the result that) I would like to do it again! (Translation) - Zoe, France Leader’s Response: Great to have such positive feedback. I hope you enjoyed the soirée hosted by George on the last night. I thought the rendition of ‘Food Glorious Food’ was excellent and a fitting way to remember the camp. “Agreement about fruit cordial” Finally, one eats well in England! (Translation) Ann - Claire, France Leader’s Response: Sacre bleu! (Pardon my French.) I am pleased that our French guest enjoyed the handmade sandwiches, cake, custard creams, chilled fruit cordial and yet more cake that we had for lunch as much as the rest of us. Is that a Michelin star I see on the horizon? “Local entertainment” There were a lot of friendly, interested and supportive passers-by on the towpath. Back in the Scout Hut, Chris (F) puzzled us a lot - David, East Anglia Leader’s Response: I am not sure if David met the lady who said that we were doing a good job but that we all very smelly. Again my apologies that we arrived just too late to take part in the wheelbarrow race in Bonsall. “Everyone was feeling very tired by the end of the week...” Towards the end of the week someone said that there is a general somnolence, isn’t there? - Cookie Sarah, East Anglia Leader’s Response: I am sorry but I cannot be held responsible for the disturbance to people’s sleep caused by some of our elderly gentlemen guests having to get up for a short walk several times during the night. “Travel plans changed…” Travel plans were disrupted during the camp due to the discovery of a long lost railway station in the bottom of the lock. Despite waiting for some time no train arrived to take us away from the mud and debris. - Dai Station, Merioneth Leader’s Response: We cannot be held responsible for the reliability of the local railway franchise holder. Any volunteers wishing to leave early are advised to book a ticket well in advance. [see also p41 for a picture of the ‘long lost railway station’ that was discovered in the lock ...Ed]
Camp 2014-06 Swansea Canal “Joy to the World”. (OK, so I’ll be honest – that’s an in-joke, and for diplomatic reasons it’ll remain so [diplomatic? Navvies? Surely not?]) The problem with not delegating the writing of the camp report is that, invariably, you end up writing it yourself. And so, some 10 weeks after the camp has finished I am left trying to remember what actually happened! It is perhaps a sign of our evolving times that the easiest way to do this is to read through the edits made to the site paperwork throughout the week – the various additions, changes, removals and task briefings requested by our overseers, the Canal & River Trust (CRT). CRT? But I thought this was the Swansea Canal? Well yes, it is, and we were indeed invited by the Swansea Canal Society. The Swansea is however, still owned by CRT, who have a duty to maintain a water flow through the site to feed various industries downstream. Whilst the jobs were ones that SCS wanted to carry out, they were only allowed with the agreement and coordination of CRT. The presence of up to 8 CRT staff, a full camp of WRG volunteers and a healthy contingent of locals made the whole site something of a jurisdiction nightmare! It is because of this that I think I’ll start the body of this report with the thanks that would normally constitute the end. This is so that I can thank the truly brilliant group of volunteers, without which Ju (my glorious assistant) and I would have had a much more difficult week. Their support and unwavering jovial nature made the whole week worthwhile. For our entertainments we are all indebted to Alan Williams of SCS who provided us with an on-site picnic and a free curry evening (complete with coordinated singing!) – and brought beer! The local society are a fabulous, hard working and well meaning group of people, and I hope that we did you proud (and taught you some more skills along the way!). So, what did we do? The aim of the camp was to carry out a multitude of jobs around the Trebanos Locks. WRG started to work there last year (and the continuation of this has already been reported by the much more organised leadership team of Bob & Katrina from week 2), repairing the bywashes (which, incidentally, seem to be called bi-weirs on this site). This year, SCS also wanted to start work repairing the Lower Trebanos Lock, and to that end one of their members had paid to have the stop planks replaced that were holding back the water in the intermediate pound. This ensured that CRT could sign off the dam and allow us to enter the chamber. In addition, work was to continue on the bywashes of both the Lower and
Camp Report Swansea Canal Upper locks, the rebuilding of the intermediate pound wall was to be completed and the lock approach wall to the Upper Lock was to be dismantled and rebuilt (this before the changes noted above). Day 1: The arrival saga. What a long way away Swansea is! It is also, contrary to popular belief, a long way from the Mon & Brec. This was unfortunate, as part of the (typically convoluted WRG style) logistics plan involved Bungle depositing a van and trailer with us and then collecting a van from the Mon & Brec to return to the Cotswolds. With trains being rather infrequent and Bungle needing to get back home in good time to go out again, I agreed to ‘nip him over’ to the Mon & Brec. That all done, I returned to the Swansea just about in time to meet all of the new and old volunteers and get ready for the week ahead… The normal kit counting activities and fine dining (courtesy of our weekend cook, Mitch) were followed by a somewhat later than normal health & safety brief before retirement to the luxurious wooden floor of Ystradgynlais Scout Hut. Day 2: The setting up site saga. The first thing that became apparent on site was that things were not quite as they were on the site visit a month previously. A slight miscommunication between SCS and CRT had meant that SCS had done some work on the offside of the lower lock that rather altered our intending working methods. This meant that a small amount of head scratching (me and CRT), twiddling of thumbs (volunteers), tea drinking (all of the above) and, yes, rewriting paperwork (me) was needed before CRT could finally sign the site over to me and allow work to start around lunchtime. Thankfully the weather held out and everyone was able to enjoy the additional bonding time. Once work did begin teams started on the dismantling of the two sections of wall (Ju taking the opportunity to lead the team that was destined to get the most dirty) whilst a third team was set the task of devising a safe, simple method for installing and removing the Youngman bridge that provided access across the head of the lock. Their initial ingenious systems of ropes, ladders, shouting and waving was perhaps not the most suitable but it provided entertainment for several hours. Unfortunately this was the last time we used the bridge and so their creation was never recorded for posterity.
Highlight of the day was the mid-morning (so approximately 3rd tea break) text from our esteemed chef that ‘we have crackling’. Nothing seems to raise the spirits of a bunch of volunteers so effectively! Day 3: The Excavator Saga. The original work plan had us removing rubble and old coping stones from the lock and placing them on the offside for future reuse (the thought being that a coping stone on the towpath side might prove just too tempting for a passerby). After much discussion about hoists and telehandlers, it was eventually decided to use an excavator. The required lifting capacity and reach had meant that we would need a minimum of an 8t machine, but the work done by SCS had rendered the offside somewhat less usable and so it was decided to risk the temptations and put all the material on the towpath side. In hindsight it was a big shame that this decision wasn’t made earlier because it would have meant a much smaller machine could have been used. As it was the 12t machine we ended up with only just fitted down the track, and then couldn’t get up the slope onto site without some serious ground disturbance. Given that the CAT scan had revealed buried cables under the slope, it was reluctantly decided that perhaps the excavator was a waste of time and so it was off hired almost immediately. That wasn’t quite the end of the saga, but the remainder of the details are just too painful and don’t really add to the story of the camp… Whilst all this fun was going on teams continued to dismantle walls and started on clearing of the lock walls ready for repointing to begin
the next day. On Sunday, Mitch had left us all with the taste of roast pork still lingering and so we returned back to the hall to welcome Debbie and Sarah to continue on with the cooking. However the message to me that ‘we need to go shopping’ hadn’t quite impressed the right level of urgency and so we returned to the slightly more worrying ‘we’ve got no food’. Thankfully the chip shop was still open and so with the addition of leftovers a meal was soon created. Day 4: The equipment saga. We were joined on site by CRT’s heritage adviser in the region, David Viner. He was there to train all of the volunteers in heritage lime mortar works – for which it is helpful to have the right equipment. However, having sat for 10 months since its last service at the end of the 2013 camp season, the WRG generator defied all attempts to start it on the battery or by hand. Eventually we tried so hard that we managed to shear the rubber bearings (top tip: if you’re having to pull the starter cord that hard you’re either doing something wrong or it’s f****d. It was the latter). Thankfully the locals had just invested in a new generator themselves and so this was fetched and the mixer started up. Ah, except that the mixer was also broken. The on/off switch wasn’t latching into the on position and so someone had to hold the switch in throughout the demonstration mix. This not being a long term workable solution, we were once again indebted to the local society for allowing us to christen their very shiny new mixer once it was retrieved from the store! So the order of the day from then on was pointing, more pointing and starting to rebuild the two sections of wall that had been dismantled. The equipment saga wasn’t quite over though – the burco was starting to leak gas. CRT got it fixed for us though, so at least they could still drink us out of tea! Day 5: The Speedo Saga / The Confined Space Saga (the speedo belonging to EHP, not a rather tight pair of swimming trunks causing gaseous build up). In truth, the problems by this point all started to blur into one, and so I’m not sure exactly when these happened. But we’ll not let that get in the way of a good story. Having now worked on the lock for 3 days, CRT decided it
would be a good idea to give us a toolbox talk on working in a confined space. To that end they had arranged with the local society to use the local village hall and in groups of 7 or 8 we dutifully trotted up to the hall, up the steps, took our boots off and proceeded to watch a 10 minute video on BW’s processes for working in confined spaces. Whilst I can understand why CRT thought this would be useful, any information relevant to us was lost amongst the vast majority that wasn’t and the frustration of being dragged off site to watch it – less would have meant more! The video also delayed the wonderful picnic that was being provided by the local society – complete with tablecloths and more sorts of cake than even I could manage (and believe me I tried!) (The work, by the way, was more of the same – repointing and rebuilding) On the way home from site, EHP’s speedo malfunctioned and so Ju had to drive it back on feel and revs whilst I kept an eye on the tachograph (some mental arithmetic needed there). On getting back to the hall we dutifully reported the problem to Bungle, who after much discussion with other Transit specialists (other words are available) phoned us back to inform us we had broken the van in a ‘new and innovative way’ (you can just hear the excitement in his voice can’t you!). It was a bit temperamental for the next day or two and then seemed to settle down. [I would like to say though that I was informed later in the summer that this problem had already cropped up on EHP earlier in the season – Bungle didn’t know though so if these things happen you do actually need to report them!] Day 6: The Bin Saga. Question: how many people does it take to empty a bin? To give you some guidance before you make your decision, bear in mind that we not only didn’t have the key, we didn’t even realise that it took a key… The bin had been rather full all week, and even providing our own bin bags we had obviously added to it enough that it was a bit too full. In between singing whale music and ‘bantering’ with the locals, this had been bothering Jo and so the two of us set about trying to fathom the mechanism to empty it. An hour later, having completely dismantled the bin, emptied it and reassembled all moving components, we found the utility key socket that had been hiding underneath the bin bag and so were able to test that the mechanism still worked. Aside from emptying the bin the two walls were nearing completion and the pointing was coming on a treat. Being a pianist, I have been party to several camp sing-a-longs in the past. However I have never actually been to one where the locals supply
two printed sheets of words! The curry evening was thus a particular delight of the week (even if the waiter did appear to change his mind as to what dish he was holding just because nobody wanted his first offering – I didn’t know that Chicken Korma and Prawn Korma could be so similar…). An excellent meal rounded off by singing (slightly dubious in words and tune), though when Gordon (local) had drunk enough to start singing his own creations we decided that it was perhaps time to leave! Day 7: The Final Saga. Ah, the last day! I have to confess, by this point I was quite excited by this prospect. The volunteers were fabulous and the work was progressing, but the multiple sagas were taking their toll. We largely finished jobs off though, so not a difficult day in reality. A photo call, the very welcome arrival of next week’s leader and a final round of thanks with the locals and suddenly the site work was over. Before we leave site though, I’ll illustrate one point about the changing of paperwork and scope creep. On Tuesday, we were given a new job to do (by CRT). This was to involve rebuilding an element of wall below the Lower Lock. CRT gave me a basic method statement which I wrote into the rest in the evening. Having enlisted the local CRT crew to help move a very large chunk of wood that formed part of the new wall, I was then given a new method statement for the same job on Thursday (the wood now having been removed from the plan). I didn’t write this up – which is good, because on Friday the new job was taken out of the plan altogether. And this wasn’t the only instance… Back at the accommodation we had a relatively subdued end of camp (I spent most of it in the kitchen as Debbie and Sarah had left on the Thursday). Spoons did enliven it for a time though! Day 8: Handover (aka The Saga To Be Continued). Ah, the end. We cleaned, we tidied, we counted, we packed. And we went HOME!!! I started this report with the thanks, but I will reiterate them – without any one of you this camp would have been much more difficult. Thank you all for your patience, support, dedication, advice, hugs and cups of tea. To the volunteers: Hannah, David E, Jo, David H, David M, Emma, Michelle, Francesca, Daz, Camille, Joe, Mark, Olivia and Runar. To my assistant Ju, without whom I would have been lost. To my cooks, Mitch, Debbie, Sarah & the confused waiter. To all of the locals, particularly Martin, Gordon, David & Alan. And to CRT, for making volunteering so much less fun than it should be... George Rogers
Camp Report Basingstoke Canal
Marion reports from a week of towpath surfacing and building an extension to a landing stage on the Basingstoke Canal
Basingstoke Canal 30 Aug - 6 Sep made lots of friends. Regular commuters
stopped to chat. Bongo the dog rushed This year’s canal camp on Basingstoke Canal eagerly to help every day, but never before was a huge success against what seemed, at midday, and his volunteering seemed limited first, like tremendous odds. The local society to helping us with lunch. was intensely supportive, as were some The local society asked for a long exvolunteer trainers, who joined us especially tension to an existing landing stage and a to get people “ticketed” quickly so as to allow towpath resurfaced along 750 metres. As an them to drive dumpers and a roller. Amongst extra, the water point cupboard needed our number there were four people working painting. for Duke of Edinburgh award, two people The Alan Flight boat acted as a bridge, who worked full time in waterway managean equipment store and, for the landing ment, a couple of boaters and a few WRG stage, a workplace. regulars, one of whom made a special and The landing stage was the time-critical very welcome last minute appearance to help task. No one wanted it left unfinished. The with piling on the landing stage. wood and the steel had arrived on site, as Accommodation was at Runways End had a digger, a generator, an entire medley Outdoor Centre, a swish new building with of drills, an air compressor and a pile hamloads of showers and toilets, proper matmer, but other than that, the landing stage tresses on bed frames and plenty of room, extension was still on the drawing board. set amidst a high ropes course, a climbing The first morning was spent painting tower and other outdoor activities. The work site lay beside Brookwood Country Park, an expansive green common popular with dog walkers, cyclists and a shortcut for local schoolchildren. The ‘Saturn Trail’ and the ‘Hyperion Trail’ both run through it. Two short sections of towpath, one on either side, unfortunately had to be temporarily closed to the public but the work we were doing clearly enjoyed local Piling in progress on the landing stage support and we
shed and fence preserver onto the timbers. Great care was taken not to spill anything on the grass. Work then proceeded slowly as there were debates about measurements. After that, the noise of the pile hammer was actually a source of jubilation; quickly, the steel sheet piles went in for the back of the landing stage at intervals along the bank, and then the piles at the front of the landing stage, alternating wooden post piles with steel half channels, the steel half channels having small wooden posts inside them. A row of wooden planks was bolted behind the front piles, and another was bolted to the front of the back piles. At the very front, two sets of wooden planks were bolted to act as rubbing boards for boats. A magnetically positioned drill put holes in the steel to allow horizontal tie rods between the front and back piles, holding the whole thing together. Soil was backfilled behind the back piles. Finally, horizontal decking was nailed across the top. Across the canal from the landing stage was the towpath that needed resurfacing. A mini excavator scraped the top surface of the existing track to remove vegetation and provide an adhesive surface for the new roadstone. A brush cutter exposed passing places on one side of the track, away from the canal side and without disturbing the Site of Special Scientific Interest. Then a procession of small track dumpers brought the roadstone from the pile at one end of the towpath to the other, where it was raked into place and then rollered to provide a smooth surface with a very slight camber to allow runoff. With two deliveries of roadstone every day, the dumper drivers, the rakers and the rollers hardly stopped work at all, but of course, the work speeded up as the work progressed, as the dumpers had less far to drive. In the middle of the week, the water point cupboard was repainted to look very spruce. At the end of the week, the towpath resurfacing was finished just after lunchtime on the Friday. This left a load of volunteers to do the kit check (which saved a job on Saturday) and then mill around giving moral support to those still frantically working on the landing stage. We reached the very last six screws to be
Another load of stone on the towpath surface put in the decking on top of the landing stage when – with exquisite timing – the drill ran out of charge. Never mind, a fresh battery pack was brought out of another box. As soon as the ‘footpath closed’ signs were taken down, cyclists and pedestrians swarmed along to watch the group photos. The evenings’ entertainment included a boat trip, and, to keep the theme of staying at an outdoor centre, a ‘high ropes’ course. But this was ‘high ropes’ with a difference, because everyone had to work with a partner and haul each other up. People normally quiet and timid on site romped along pulling their partners along too. Derek’s food was wonderful, with fresh salad vegetables every day and some good old-fashioned hearty favourites too. He introduced us to ‘cucumelons’, a hybrid between a cucumber and a melon: bitesize, with a crunchy skin and juicy flesh inside. Lunch often included freshly cooked soup, delivered hot on site. Thanks for a great week to Adrian Crow the leader, Maggie the assistant leader, Derek the cook, Adrian the digger driver, James, Mike, Michael, Martin, Tim, Tom, Rachael, Dave, Pete, Matt, Alex, Linda, Steph, Amber, Colin and Tony. Marion Carter
Navvies diary WRG and mobile groups Your guide to all forthcoming work parties Oct 25-Nov 1 WRG FT Oct 26 Sun IWPS Oct 26-Nov 1 Camp 201424 Oct 31-Nov 6 WAT Nov 1 Navvies Nov 8/9 WRG Nov 8 Sat WRG Nov 9 Sun IWPS Nov 15/16 wrgBITM Nov 15/16 NWPG Nov 15 Sat wrgNW Nov 22/23 KESCRG Nov 22/23 London WRG Nov 23 Sun IWPS Dec 5-11 WAT Dec 6/7 Essex WRG Dec 6/7 wrgNW Dec 6/7 London WRG Dec 7 Sun IWPS Dec 13/14 wrgBITM Dec 20 Sat wrgNW Dec 21 Sun IWPS Dec 26-Jan 1 wrgBITM
WRG Forestry Camp Bugsworth Basin Cotswold Canals (moved from Ashby Canal) Wendover Arm: Seven-day weekend Fri-Thu Press date for issue 268 (including WRG / canal societies directory) Chesterfield Canal: Bonfire Bash - WRG Reunion Committee & Board Meetings: at Bonfire Bash Bugsworth Basin Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation: Scrub bashing/bank clearance. To be Cotswold Canals: Ham Mill Lock, Stroud ‘Paper Chase’ waste paper collection Thames & Medway Canal: Christmas dig with London WRG. Thames & Medway Canal: Christmas dig with KESCRG Bugsworth Basin Wendover Arm: Seven-day weekend Fri-Thu Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation Cromford Canal Extra dig on the Cotswold Canals Bugsworth Basin Wey & Arun Canal: Christmas Work Party. Scrub bashing at new site at ‘Paper Chase’ waste paper collection Bugsworth Basin Wilts & Berks Canal: Christmas Camp at Dauntsey. Leak sealing with Bentomat, levelling & widening towpath with excavat Dec 26-Jan 1 Camp 201425 Cotswold Canals: Christmas Camp. Scrub bashing. Leader: ‘RAF Martin Jan 1 Navvies Press date for issue 269 Jan 17/18 London WRG Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation Jan 17/18 wrgBITM To be arranged Jan 25 Sun WRG Committee & Board Meetings: Rowington Village Hall Feb 7/8 London WRG Wey & Arun Canal Feb 21/22 wrgBITM To be arranged Feb 28-Mar 1 London WRG Cotswold Canals Mar 1 Navvies Press date for issue 269 Mar 15 Sun WRG Committee & Board Meetings: Rowington Mar 21/22 London WRG Chesterfield Canal Mar 21/22 wrgBITM To be arranged Apr 18/19 WRG/BCNS/IWA BCN Clean Up - more details in next Navvies Apr 18/19 wrgBITM To be arranged
For details of diary dates beyond the end of this list ple
Canal Camps cost ÂŁ56 per week unless otherwise stated. Bookings for WRG Camps identified by a camp number e.g. 'Camp 201424' should go to WRG Canal Camps, Island House, Moor Road, Chesham HP5 1WA. Tel: 01494 783453, firstname.lastname@example.org. Diary compiled by Dave Wedd. Tel: 01252 874437, email@example.com Ian Edgar Roger Leishman Martin Ludgate
Mike Palmer Ian Edgar e confirmed Dave Wedd Bill Nicholson David McCarthy Bobby Silverwood Tim Lewis Ian Edgar Roger Leishman John Gale Malcolm Bridge Tim Lewis Ian Edgar t Whipley Dave Wedd David McCarthy Ian Edgar Rachael Banyard tor, tree felling, bonfires, etc. nâ€™ Thompson Martin Ludgate Tim Lewis Dave Wedd Mike Palmer Tim Lewis Dave Wedd Tim Lewis Martin Ludgate Mike Palmer Tim Lewis Dave Wedd Dave Wedd
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01494-783453 07779-478629 07802-518094 01252-874437 01564-785293 07802-518094 01252-874437 07802-518094 07779-478629 01564-785293 07802-518094 01252-874437 01494-783453 01252-874437
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ease contact diary compiler Dave Wedd: see top of page
canal society regulars
Canal societiesâ€™ regular working parties Every Tuesday BCA Once per month: pls check BCNS 2nd & 4th w/e of month BCS Thursdays Sep-Apr BCT 2nd Sun & alternate Thu BuCS Every Mon and Wed CCT Every mon am Thu pm CCT Various dates CCT Every Sunday ChCT Every Tue and Thu CSCT Every Tue & Wed C&BN Every Friday ECPDA Second Sun of month FIPT Thu and last Sat of month GCS 2nd Sat of month GWCT Tuesdays H&GCT Weekends H&GCT Wednesdays H&GCT Thursdays H&GCT Every Sunday if required IWPS Every weekday KACT/CRT 2nd Sunday of month LCT Every Wed/Sat/Sun LHCRT 3rd Sunday of month LHCRT Last weekend of month MBBCS Two Sundays per month NWDCT 2nd & last Sundays PCAS Every Wed and 1st Sat RGT 2nd Sunday of month SCARS 1st Sunday of month SCCS Last weekend of month SCS 2nd Sunday of month SNT Every Thu and Sat SORT 1st weekend of month SUCS Every Tuesday morning TMCA Every Sunday & Thurs WACT Mondays (2 per month) WACT Wednesdays WACT Wednesdays WACT Sundays mainly WACT Thursdays WACT Various dates WACT 1st w/e of month (Fri-Thu) WAT
Basingstoke Canal Chris Healy BCN waterways Mike Rolfe Basingstoke Canal Duncan Paine Aqueduct section Tim Dingle Buckingham area Athina Beckett Cotswold (W depot) Ron Kerby Cotswold (E end) John Maxted Cotswold Phase 1a Jon Pontefract Chesterfield Canal Mick Hodgetts Chichester Canal Malcolm Maddison Chelmer & Blackwater John Gale Langley Mill Michael Golds Foxton Inclined Plane Mike Beech Grantham Canal Ian Wakefield Nynehead Lift Denis Dodd Oxenhall Brian Fox Over Wharf House Maggie Jones Over / Vineyard Hill Ted Beagles Herefordshire Wilf Jones Bugsworth Basin Ian Edgar Bradford on Avon Derrick Hunt Lancaster N. Reaches Keith Tassart Lichfield Terry Brown Hatherton Denis Cooper Creams Paper Mill Steve Dent N Walsham Canal David Revill Pocklington Canal Paul Waddington Stowmarket Navigtn. Martin Bird Sankey Canal John Hughes Combe Hay Locks Derrick Hunt Stover Canal George Whitehead Sleaford Navigation Mel Sowerby Sussex Ouse Ted Lintott Montgomery Canal David Carter Thames & Medway C Brian Macnish varied construction Eric Walker tidying road crossings John Empringham Tickner's Heath Depot John Smith maintenance work Ray Pick Loxwood Link Kev Baker Winston Harwood Grp Tony Clear Hedgelaying (Oct-Mar) Keith Nichols Drayton Beauchamp Roger Leishman
01252-370073 07763-171735 01252-614125 01288-361356 01908-661217 01453-836018 01285-861011 07986-351412 01246-620695 01243-775201 01376-334896 0115-932-8042 0116-279-2657 0115-989-2128 01823-661653 01432 358628 01452 618010 01452 522648 01452 413888 0161-427 7402 01225-863066 01524-424761 01889-576574 01543-374370 07802-973228 01603-738648 01757-638027 01394-380765 01744-600656 01225-863066 01626-775498 01522-856810 01444-414413 01244-661440 01732-823725 023-9246-3025 01483-562657 01903-235790 01483-272443 02380-861074 01903-774301 01403-753882 01442-874536
If you have any additions / corrections / deletions to this list, please send them to Navvies diary compiler Dave Wedd (see previous page)
CRT towpath taskforce
Canal & River Trust ‘Towpath Taskforce’ maintenance working parties 2nd Saturday of month Audlem Shropshire Union Glenn Young see below 2nd Saturday of month Aylesbury Grand Union Miriam Tedder 07775-543990 4th Thursday of month Bath Kennet & Avon Steve Manzi 07710-175278 Alternate Thursdays Blackburn Leeds & Liverpool Matt Taylor 07780-222977 1st Sunday of month Burnley Leeds & Liverpool Matt Taylor 07780-222977 3rd Thursday of month Cheshire T&M/Macclesfield Steve O’Sullivan 07887-684707 1st Saturday of month Chester Shropshire Union Glenn Young see below Alternate Saturdays Chorley Leeds & Liverpool Matt Taylor 07780-222977 2nd Tuesday of month Churnet Valley Caldon Canal Barry Keight 07919 560582 3rd Thursday of month Devizes Kennet & Avon Steve Manzi 07710-175278 Weds and Thurs Droitwich Droitwich Canal Suzanne Byrne 07900-276544 3rd Saturday of month Ellesmere Llangollen Canal Glenn Young see below 1st Saturday of month Fradley Trent & Mersey Tom Freeland 01827-252010 4th Thursday of month Gailey Staffs & Worcs Murray Woodward 07808-786772 1st Mon & Wed of month Hatton Grand Union Canal Murray Woodward 07808-786772 Last Sunday of month Hawkesbury Coventry/Oxford Miriam Tedder 07775-543990 2nd Friday of month Huddersfield Huddersfield Broad Claire McDonald 07920-295943 1st Thursday of month Knottingley Aire & Calder Nav Lucy Dockray 07767-383736 Alternate Thursdays Lancaster Lancaster Canal Matt Taylor 07780-222977 3rd Saturday of month Lapworth Stratford Canal Murray Woodward 07808-786772 Alternate Tuesdays Leicester Grand Union/Soar Tom Freeland 01827-252010 3rd Saturday of month London Grand Union/Lee Becky Williams 07799-436816 3rd Thursday of month East London Lee & Stort Navs Becky Williams 07799-436816 3rd Tuesday of month West London Grand Union Canal Becky Williams 07799-436816 4th Saturday of month Manchester Ashton / Peak Forest Steve O’Sullivan 07887-684707 1st Thu and 3rd Sat Maunsel Bridgwater & TauntonSteve Manzi 07710-175278 2nd Thursday of month Newbury Kennet & Avon Steve Manzi 07710-175278 Alternate Wednesdays Preston Lancaster Canal Matt Taylor 07780-222977 Alternate Fridays Sefton Leeds & Liverpool Alice Kay 07825 196365 3rd Saturday of month near Selby Selby Canal Lucy Dockray 07767-383736 Alternate Wednesdays Skipton Leeds & Liverpool Matt Taylor 07780-222977 Alternate Fridays Stoke Caldon / T&M Tom Freeland 01827-252010 Every other Wednesday Tamworth Coventry Canal Tom Freeland 01827-252010 4th Saturday of month Tipton BCN Murray Woodward 07808-786772 Alternate Thursdays North Warks Tom Freeland 01827-252010 Every Tuesday Wigan Leeds & Liverpool Matt Taylor 07780-222977 3rd Thursday of month Welshpool Montgomery Canal Glenn Young see below Contact details: All CRT co-ordinators can be emailed at firstname.lastname@example.org, eg email@example.com for K & A. If no phone number given, use CRT Tel: 03030 404040
Abbreviations used in Diary: BCA BCNS BuCS BCS BCT ChCT CBN CSCT CCT ECPDA FIPT GCS GWCT H&GCT IWPS KACT
Basingstoke Canal Authority Birmingham Canal Navigations Soc. Buckingham Canal Society Basingstoke Canal Society Bude Canal Trust Chesterfield Canal Trust Chelmer & Blackwater Navigation Chichester Ship Canal Trust Cotswolds Canals Trust Erewash Canal Pres. & Devt. Assoc. Foxton Inclined Plane Trust Grantham Canal Society Grand Western Canal Trust Hereford & Gloucester Canal Trust Inland Waterways Protection Society Kennet & Avon Canal Trust
KESCRG LCT LHCRT MBBCS NWPG NWDCT PCAS RGT SCARS SCCS SCS SNT SORT SUCS TMCA WACT WAT WBCT
Kent & E Sussex Canal Rest. Group Lancaster Canal Trust Lichfield & Hatherton Canals Rest'n Trust Manchester Bolton & Bury Canal Society Newbury Working Party Group North Walsham & Dilham Canal Trust Pocklington Canal Amenity Society River Gipping Trust Sankey Canal Restoration Society Somersetshire Coal Canal Society Stover Canal Society Sleaford Navigation Trust Sussex Ouse Restoration Trust Shropshire Union Canal Society Thames & Medway Canal Association Wey & Arun Canal Trust Wendover Arm Trust Wilts & Berks Canal Trust
Inland Waterways Association and other one-day working parties Oct 26 Sun IWA SY&D Sheffield & South Yorkshire Navigation: Canal Cleanup at Tinsley. Oct 28 Tue IWA Northants Northampton Arm Nov 1 Sat IWA Chester Shropshire Union Canal in Chester: Painting, weeding, litterpicking. Nov 2 Sun IWA Warks Grand Union: Canal Cleanup in Warwick: 10am-1pm Nov 3 & 5 IWA Warks/CRT Grand Union Canal: Hatton, lock painting, litter pick, veg clearance & Every Wed IWA Ipswich River Gipping: Pipps Ford, or Baylham Mill Lock 9am-4pm. Also Sat 1 Nov 9 Sun IWA Northants Northampton Arm Nov 13 Thu IWA NSSC/CUCT Caldon Canal: Location & task TBC 10am-3pm Nov 15 & 20 IWA Warks/CRT Stratford Canal: Lapworth, lock painting, litter pick, veg clearance & Nov 15 Sat IWA NSSC/TMCS Trent & Mersey Canal: Cheshire Locks. Painting & veg clearance 10amNov 22/23 IWA BBCW Worcester & Birmingham Canal: Canal Cleanup at Bournville Nov 22 Sat IWA London London Canal Cleanup Nov 25 Tue IWA Northants Northampton Arm Nov 28 Fri IWA NSSC Macclesfield Canal: Veg clearance & litter picking, Congleton Station Dec 1 & 3 IWA Warks/CRT Grand Union Canal: Hatton, lock painting, litter pick, veg clearance & Every Wed IWA Ipswich River Gipping: Pipps Ford, or Baylham Mill Lock 9am-4pm. Also Sat 6 Dec 6/7 IWA ChelmsfordChelmer & Blackwater Navigation: With Essex WRG Dec 6 Sat IWA Chester Shropshire Union Canal in Chester: Painting, weeding, litterpicking. Dec 7 Sun IWA Northants Northampton Arm Dec 11 Thu IWA NSSC/CUCT Caldon Canal: Location & task TBC 10am-3pm Dec 16 Tue IWA Northants Northampton Arm Dec 18 & 20 IWA Warks/CRT Stratford Canal: Lapworth, lock painting, litter pick, veg clearance &
IWA reports a successful ‘balsam bashing’ season with 150 volunteers tackling the invasive weed IWA branch abbreviations BBCW = Birmingham, Black Country & Worcestershire; Mcr= Manchester; Other abbreviations: CUCT = Caldon & Uttoxeter Canal Society; IWPS = Inland Waterways Protection
...and other one-day work
For WRG canal camps and working parties see pages 20-21 10am-1pm 10am-4pm. path work. CRT Nov.
path work. CRT 4pm
to Hightown path work. CRT Dec. 10am-4pm.
path work. CRT
Mavis Paul Geoff Wood Mike Carter Brian Bayston Hatton Yard 10am-3pm Martin Bird Geoff Wood Alison Smedley Lapworth yard 10am-3pm Bob Luscombe David Struckett Stefanie Preston Geoff Wood Bob Luscombe Hatton yard 10am-3pm Martin Bird Roy Chandler Mike Carter Geoff Wood Alison Smedley Geoff Wood Lapworth yard 10am-3pm
07725-464611 07795-617803 01926-831508 01394-380765 07779-090915 07710-054848 07976-746225 01494-783453 07710-054848 01394-380765 07795-617803 07779-090915
Navvies Directory Apologies for the non-appearance of the full Navvies directory of WRG and canal society working party contact details, which normally appears in every third issue. We hope to find space for it in issue 268, so in the meantime if you have any additions, deletions, new contact details, changes of adress or other updates, please send them to the editor by 1 November if possible Thank you.
firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com
Mobile groups' socials: The following groups hold regular social gatherings in pubs. Please phone to confirm dates and times London WRG: 7:30pm on Tues 11 days before dig at the 'Star Tavern' Belgrave Mews West, London. Contact Tim Lewis 07802-518094 NWPG: 7:30pm on 3rd Tue of month at the 'Hope Tap', West end of Friar St. Reading. Contact Phil Dray 07956-185305
NSSC = North Staffs & South Cheshire Society; TMCS = Trent & Mersey Canal Society; RGT= River Gipping Trust; CRT = Canal & River Trust
16 tonnes of aggregate by hand. The towpath now ends in the ‘shadow’ of Bridge 70 and is complete. After returning the trailer and other borrowed kit, we all adjourned to the Red Lion in Cheddleton for the evening: good food, plenty to drink and an excellent live band, plus a jive demonstration from our own ‘strictly tandem couple’ Paul & Lynda. It Caldon 40 celebrations 26-29 Sep was a late night for us all, especially Toby ‘Captain Oates’ Gomm, who for some reason and Uttoxeter towpath build decided to go walkabout star gazing between The Caldon & Uttoxeter Canal Trust [CUCT] midnight and 1am. Luckily an ‘emergency’ stalwarts Julie Arnold, Alison Smedley & text from Amber, who did manage to get Steve Wood informed me that they were home from the pub first time, woke him up planning a day of celebration on September from his moonlit kip in a meadow adjacent 28th to commemorate the 40th anniversary of to the canal and he managed to find his way the re-opening to navigation of the Caldon back unaided. Canal. They then asked me if I would assemSunday dawned early for us as we ble a small ‘Canalway Cavalcade-like’ festival switched from ‘dig’ mode to ‘festival’ mode team to help with all the usual site services the main day of the weekend and lots to do. tasks throughout the weekend; and whether The site was centred where the Caldon the same team would be able to “pop back” crosses the main road to Leek from to Bridge 70 on the Uttoxeter, to extend the Cheddleton at Bridge 42. towpath towards the bridge, the one that Imagine a standard cross demarking 4 was built on Emma Greenall’s July WRG quarters with the canal running vertically and Camp. How could I refuse? the road horizontally. London WRG and WRG North West Above Bridge 42, the NW quarter conresponded to my call for help: Martin tained Bridge Cottage, the location for the Ludgate, Alan Lines, Aileen Butler, Adrian Grand Anniversary Draw and used for safe Sturgess [plus wacker plate] plus my usual storage of kit. The NE quarter included the team of assistants Nigel Lee, Pete Fleming visitor moorings, the winding hole, the workand George Rogers; together with Ju & Daz ing Flint Mill museum and its car park, the ‘Davenport’, John Foley, Malcolm & Barbara location for the exhibitors including CRT, the Bridge, David Wild, Robin Stait, Andy Jones Trent & Mersey canal Society, RSPB, Churnet & Natalie Jewell, Paul Shaw & Lynda Valley Living Landscape Partnership, Severn Beresford, Ian Rutledge; and from IWA Head Trent Water, together with loads of WOW Office we were joined by Amber Jenkins and activities. We also had the information tent and Toby Gomm. We even had the pleasure of the CUCT sales gazebo on that side as well as Roy Sutton who had a kip and did some boat trips operated by charity boat Beatrice. washing up en route between ‘jobs’. Below Bridge 42 the centrepiece for the Apart from putting up banners & signs re-enactment ceremony was lock 13, the top and some gazebo & Herras fence wrangling, lock of the Cheddleton locks. In the SW we spent most of Saturday building towpath. quarter in the garden of the Red Lion, there Hand-dig the existing dirt track and level. was a CUCT historic display of photos and ‘Wack’ the earth. Install 3m parallel lengths of other memorabilia associated with the canal, edging board with pegs & nails. Check levels. artist & author Trevor Yorke’s tent as well as Lay Terram barrier material and back fill with ‘year of the boat’ artist Rob Pointon, who 20mm MOT aggregate, ‘wacking’ as you go. sketched the scene live on his easel by the side Cut off and trim excess material for a neat of the lock throughout the ceremony – very finish. No dumpers and no diggers, just hand impressive. In the SE quarter we had the main tools, wheelbarrows and hard graft. car park from which we operated a minibus Our CUCT Restoration Manager Steve shuttle service to transport the VIP guests Wood set us the challenge of reaching an old from their arrival point in Leek to the lockgateway in a disused stock fence – I paced it side for the ceremony. We also parked up the out at 27 metres. By the time we ran out of fire engine (until it got a ‘shout’ and rapidly Terram, we had laid 42 metres and shifted departed, sirens wailing!) and had a display
Celebration and dig
tent from Staffordshire CC Cycling Team. with Rupert Smedley [NB Joshua] who kindly Highlights of the day included among provided a very useful water-taxi for people many others, a parade of historic boats, a and equipment during the de-rig process. lock operating demonstration by the Stoke Just before you think all that was exon Trent Boat Club, an open air service by hausting enough for one trip, in addition Reverend Michael Etheridge (which included there was also an evening of archive canal musical accompaniment from an electric films at the Foxlowe Arts Centre in Leek, organ, guitar and drum kit) and the ringing hosted by CUCT on the Friday night; and not of a quarter-peal of bells at St. Edwards to overlook the IWA open meeting and AGM Church to mark the occasion. which took place at the same venue during Roger Savage [IWA North Staffordshire the day on Saturday! & South Cheshire Branch] conducted the It was a series of ‘firsts’ for me. It’s ceremony which took place in the lock quite unusual in itself to be present at the reaboard Beatrice and which included speeches opening of a restored canal never-mind from Richard Parry [CRT Chief Executive] celebrate the 40th anniversary of such a rare and Julie Arnold [CUCT Chairman]. event. The first dig I’ve attended or led Other attending dignitaries included Ian which combined canal restoration and festiDudson, the Lord-Lieutenant of Staffordshire, val management in one weekend; and the a local Industrialist, former High-Sheriff and first time I’ve experienced a ‘festival-in-a-day’ significant canal fund-raiser; and Harry Arnold - much more challenging. MBE, award winning waterway photographer & However, the weather was very kind to journalist, IWA Vice-President, co-founder of us throughout, the event was well attended WRG and who was of course, among the by the local community and the whole weekselect group of attending original canal reend was an unqualified success. storers wearing the specially commissioned The sheer number of organisations that badge which read: “Here before in ’74". combined to work together on this and the The event was recorded for posterity by amount of hard work carried out by everyIWA / CUCT official photographer Mike Arnold one was astonishing; and I would like to and covered by the Leek & Post Times, the especially praise the aforementioned CUCT Churnet Valley Speaks community audio Team who organised and hosted the event – project, Moorlands Radio and the Sentinel the contribution they made is so significant newspaper. [And our back cover pic ...Ed] it’s difficult to fully appreciate. So as you can imagine, lots and lots of My sincere personal thanks are exwalking and talking, interaction with the tended to everyone who contributed to such public and all the standard festival duties: a fantastic and rewarding weekend - may we fetch & carry, gazebo and fence wrangling, go on to celebrate the re-opening of many chairs & tables, cyclist management, traffic more canals in the future! control, crowd control, stacking & packing, Gary Summers banners & signs, trail boards, hand-balling exhibitors, minibus driving, litter picking and rubbish collection, safety supervision, boat handling, liaison with fire service, police service and first aid cover; and all the usual trouble shooting, problem solving and incident management. My thanks to Alison Smedley MBE [CUCT / IWA] and Ken Marek [Stoke on Trent Boat Club] for their constant liaison throughTowpath work in progress on the Uttoxeter Canal out the day together
Our regular roundup of restoration progress around the waterways kicks off with the Wendover Arm...
boards for the nature trail/footpath leading to Whitehouses. These were designed and procured by Ray Orth. The first is at Bridge 4 at the entrance to the footpath and the second, which explains the water control operations of the future, is at the viewing area at Whitehouses. Finally we have to thank Mike Wright and his grandson who spent two days cutting back the vegetation, mainly nettles, that were overhanging the new path. Many thanks to you both. New volunteers welcome, contact details as follows: Roger Leishman, Restoration Director 01442 874536, firstname.lastname@example.org
During the weekend of the Wendover Arm Trust’s July working party we were able to install the Brooman family’s bench seat placed in memory of John Brooman, our late Treasurer and regular volunteer dumper driver. John’s sons, Richard and Edward joined our working party to lay the concrete base and fix the bench seat in memory of their father. The Trust’s volunteers provided the base as their contribution to the memorial. The target of completing the profiling of banks, lining them with Bentomat waterproof matting, laying the concrete blocks and coir rolls on both banks up to Bridge 4A was achieved, bar short gaps adjacent to the bridge where a transition from normal banks to bridge narrows is required. Apart from the excellent work by our own volunteers we also have to thank KESCRG who put in a valiant effort on the Saturday of their weekend visit in August to lay the concrete blocks and coir rolls. I am told that, as bad weather was forecast for the Sunday, they worked like beavers very late on the Saturday to ensure that the work was completed. Whitehouses: As already mentioned, KESCRG worked over the weekend following the August working party and finished all the brickwork etc. they could at Whitehouses pumping station site, pending CRT completing their work on the water control mechanisms. It is to be hoped that CRT will complete their work by Easter 2015 so that KESCRG can make a date for around May to complete their brickwork. We are all very impressed with the quality of KESCRG’s work and are very grateful for their contribution to the restoration of the Wendover Arm. The brickwork is not complete at the far end pending CRT building a manhole adjacent to the old settling tank but you can see the weir and collecting channel in front as well as the new piers that will support the metal safety grid that will cover the tank and enable the public to view the water control in operation. KESCRG also erected two information
Pictures by Roger Leishman, WAT
Grand Union Wendover Arm
Approach to Bridge 4A all finished (above) State of progress at Whitehouses (below)
Next we head for the Midlands, where the Lichfield and Hatherton Canals Restoration Trust continues to make progress
Lichfield and Hatherton
A460 at The Boat inn. Further on towards Ogley we have been talking to landowners Progress on the Lichfield Canal at the and to the owners of the M6 Toll motorway. Tamworth Road work site (on the outskirts of We have been studying ways to reinstate the Lichfield) is still impressive with the new Cranebrook Culvert, which was removed by winding hole approaching completion. Atthe builders of the motorway despite strong tempts to use a synthetic liner in Pound 27 pressure from the Trust. Raising public (below the locks) have largely been abandoned awareness by establishing a walking route is and the team has been preparing to use puddle now seen as vital. Meanwhile, we are waiting clay. This move is popular with friends of the for decisions on the alignment of HS2 at Trust and there has been a steady flow of Huddlesford. donations to the â€œFeet of Clayâ€? appeal. On the Hatherton we have determined Our volunteers are now busy for three the precise location of the tunnel which will full days each week and numbers continue to be required under the Chase Line railway grow. The range of available skills is very which will soon be electrified. Discussions impressive. The footpath from the A51 with both Cannock Chase and South StafTamworth Road to Cricket Lane is popular fordshire Councils has been very helpful as and is in increasingly popular with wheelwe work to ensure maximum protection chair users. This is all part of opening up under their district plans which are approachthe Heritage Towpath Trail along the whole ing their final stages. Renewed suggestions route from Huddlesford to Ogley. of the building of a northbound link between We are also actively re-establishing the M6 and M54 will be carefully monitored to route across Muckley Common which will see if this will give an opportunity to get the prepare the section between the A5 and the canal back under the M6 at Calf Heath.
Lichfield and Hatherton canals
Lichfield and Hatherton Canals Staffs & Worcs Canal to Great Haywood
Original route destroyed by opencast mining
Tamworth Road site
Staffs & Worcs Canal to Stourport
Proposed diversion To Wolverhampton
Coventry Canal to Fradley
Coventry Canal to Coventry
Ogley Wyrley & Esssington Canal
Daw End Branch
Progress Manchester Bolton & Bury
The Manchester Bolton & Bury Canal the flight of six locks and the group of 16 Society’s August working party was held at volunteers worked over two days to reach Nob End Locks, Little Lever, Bolton, where 16 the bottom of the locks, where they start the volunteers busied themselves in showery and climb from the Salford to Prestolee section, blustery conditions over two days. up to the Bolton and Bury sections. The locks Jobs completed included clearing the raise the Manchester Bolton & Bury Canal by towpath and path around the breached area a height of 20 metres in just 200 metres. of canal, which had become overgrown This major exercise involved clearing during the summer making it difficult for extensive growth of vegetation from the walkers and cyclists to pass along. The locks area and its sides. Working Party OfMeccano Bridge picnic area and gardens were ficer, Stuart Hammond, commented “This also given a clean up. has been another successful weekend, where The major exercise was to clear serious our group of volunteers have worked hard to growth of vegetation from the locksides, as uncover a part of the canal that has not been part of the Society’s Phase 2 restoration plan, seen for many years.” following the construction of the Meccano For details of forthcoming working Bridge as Phase 1. This plan involves the parties contact working party officer Stuart locks being uncovered, partially excavated Hammond email@example.com and the lock sides landscaped to give an or 07734 099 075. improved view of the area and in preparation For more information on the Society for future restoration. please see our website www.mbbcs.org.uk or By the end of the weekend a great deal look for Manchester, Bolton and Bury Canal of vegetation had been removed by the Society on Facebook. volunteers as they worked down the area, revealing a whole new view of this significant lock construction, which is a major feature on the Manchester Bolton & Bury Canal. Good progress was again made on the Society’s September working party, also at the Nob End Locks. The object was to continue to uncover the lower half of MBB volunteers clearing the side of Lock 5
...on Mr Mac’s 90th birthday, and a strange and unidentified structure on the Somersetshire Coal Canal
Letters to the editor
Dear Martin May I crave an inch or two of space to send Somerset Coal Canal: Mystery Structure! my most sincere thanks to the many WRGies who sent me good wishes on my 90th birthWRG BITM were on the Somersetshire Coal day. Malcolm and Barbara Bridge plus other Canal in September on a section that has ‘connivers’ from WRG North West arranged a been recently dredged. A fine wharf wall wonderful party at the North Cheshire Cruishad been discovered, and it is thought that ing Club and even aged to keep it in the dark was a colliery nearby where the coal had until the last moment! Our member Maureen been brought down by tramway. Close to produce yet another masterpiece of the cake this a beautiful stop plank narrows structure maker’s art, which even had my likeness in was uncovered with lovely curved walls at the ‘Mahler Hayley’ display boards, all enough each end. The stop plank grooves were to forgive the fact that she hails from Yorkshire! clearly defined, and about 2 ft. along on the As I often tell people, the top half of towpath wall from the groove was a strange me is as usual - it’s only from the waist down structure which puzzled us, and we would love that the troubles assert themselves. to know its purpose, if anyone has any idea. Now that I’ve taken up residence in my At the base of the wall was a stone, little bungalow, visitors - even if covered in about 15-18 ins. Square, and on either side mud - will be very welcome, and I even have of it were wooden posts about 3 ins. Thick, two bedrooms in the roof as well as a sizethe same height of the stone. Across the top able conservatory in which weary WRGies was a wooden lintel, the same thickness, could find space! extending a couple of inches into the wall on Truly, you are a great bunch! either side to support it. The stone and the David ‘Mr Mac’ McCarthy wood were set in flush with the rest of the wall, and the whole thing would have been My apologies for the delay in publishing Mr well below water level. We examined the Mac’s letter ...Ed wall on the opposite side of the canal to see if we could find any fitting that might offer an explanation, but the wall there was continuous, neither was any post hole or its like in the stone floor of the narrows. Any ideas please? Rachael Banyard What was it? The strange Somerset structure, with remains of timber removed Martin Ludgate
Camp Report Cotswold Canals Cotswold Canals: 9 - 16 August ‘Heavy Rain’, ‘Storms’, ‘High Winds’ and ‘Amber Weather Warnings’ to name a few of the ominous forecasts that were floating out of my radio as I made my way down to Stroud. As always British weather seemed to be heavy on our minds. Nick (My lovely coleader) had pre-warned me about the forecast; I had however decided to go for the slightly more optimistic approach until I heard the radio on the Saturday morning. Being as unpredictable as always, we didn’t see a single hint of the weather that was set to come. It did however form a basis for many a camp discussion on the first few days. Not to say that the weather was sunshine all week, I very much wish I could say this. It drizzled and bucketed down occasionally throughout the week but the sun was always just around the corner. And so our week begins:Thanks to Moose and Martin Thompson the Saturday went incredibly smoothly with the Vans, Site Kit and Kitchen equipment arriving all by around noon. Being overly prepared, having met Nigel at 8am, we were all set to go by midday so Nigel, Martin and Alan headed down to start pumping Bowbridge Lock out. I would like to take this opportunity to
Last time we brought you camp reports from Inglesham. This time its the turn of the other main current Cotswold volunteer site at Bowbridge, above Stroud thank my cooks for the week as without them all stepping in last minute the camp would not have run as smoothly. Firstly thank you to Harri for shopping for us on the Saturday and setting us up with breakfast for the whole week, dinner for the first night and for a fair few lunches. Also to Maria for preparing the Saturday night’s dinner so I could go down to site with all the volunteers and to Jude for cooking for us and setting us up for the rest of the week, your food and cake as always was scrumptious. I also have to say ‘well done’ and ‘thank you’ to Alex for cooking a lovely spag bol and to Amanda for helping a lot for the Friday night BBQ. Now on to Sunday: Sunday was a really great start to the week. Everyone cracked on with the jobs at hand and we had a really successful day. A group of us, thanks to Alan Lines and his trailer driving-capabilities, brought down the scaffolding from Brimscombe whilst clearing the willow that Nigel was chopping up and taking that back to Brimscombe. Others worked hard block laying to create a dam to funnel water through a pipe that was hopefully going to go out through the lock chamber, under the bridge and out the other end. Unfortunately for us the flow of water coming down was
Cotswold Canals Phase 1A: Stonehouse to Brimscombe Bowbridge Lock: current project
Griffin Mill Lock: nearly complete
Stonehouse to Bowbridge: mainly being restored by contractors, mostly complete
Ham Mill Lock: current project Bowbridge to just below Brimscombe: mainly being restored by volunteers (CCT, WRG, KESCRG, NWPG); target end of 2015
Gough’s Orchard Lock: finished Brimscombe Port
very fast so it took rather longer than expected. Martin worked tirelessly with the pump to try and get it to work to maximum efficiency. Jude had arrived whilst we were all on site so we came back to the lovely smell of home cooking. That evening I had been tasked with finding a skittles alley but unfortunately failed in that they were either closed or non-existent. I was however adamant we would find a nice pub, which we did eventually come across. When we returned Rob had started a jigsaw puzzle, with a very captive audience watching and lending a hand. Lucy and Jane had joined us this evening and Chris was due to come the following morning. Monday: RAF Martin left us in the morning. We continued with the dam, completing the other half and inserting the pipe. Everyone started digging trenches and hoped the pump would begin to work its magic on the gallons of water in the lock chamber. We continued to drill a hole through the dam wall so that the pipe could fit through and Some then be eventually attached to scaffolding. Amanda helped Nigel and Alan with the Tirfor showing pure determination throughout the day, not wanting to give up. By the end of the day Amanda had definitely had the better of the stump. Trenches were dug ready for coping stone removal. That evening we headed to the cinema to watch inbetweeners 2 whilst Alan introduced Jude to â€˜Bobâ€™ and the puzzlers continued. Nigel unfortunately left us this evening to re-join the world outside the camp. It was great to have both him and RAF Martin for the first few days. Tuesday: due to the water situation (a vast amount) and lack of pump strong enough to pump out the water in the lock chamber a team moved onto block-laying, making a start on what was going to be the new wall along the towpath (which had collapsed in early spring due to bad weather). Andrew, Stan and Karl started on that whilst Tony mixed cement for them; it was a great team which continued to work well throughout the week. We were able to train a fair
people managed to get just a little muddy... few volunteers on block-laying which was great. Rob and Chris carried on paddling around the dam blocking of any leaks and then Rob went to lend a hand on the wall. They all had their eye on finishing the three layers of blocks needed by Friday. We continued digging the trenches behind the wing wall coping stones in order to remove these safely so that we could replace the mortar. Once the trench was dug Alex, Thibaud, Ben and Caitlin started clearing vegetation and then the removal of the coping stones began. The larger silent pump arrived, and immediately died on us as soon as the Sykes engineer had disappeared around the corner. Luckily he came back reasonably quickly and not only did he fix the pump but after a chat with Nick and Alan he promised to visit our website and sign up to a camp next year! We were finally able to get into the lock chamber as instead of a dayâ€™s pumping it was just under half a day. It suddenly became clear that the contractor that had been contracted to get all the silt out of the bottom of
the chamber had not managed it, and as we stepped in in our waders we were engulfed up to our thighs in silt. It was definitely going to be hard going. A trench was dug behind the coping stones on the offside wall of the lock chamber, ready for when the scaffolding was eventually going to be put up. We started clearing some bricks and got a team going on cleaning those. Tuesday evening we had a lovely boat trip with Fish & Chips. Everyone really enjoyed it and had a go at working the locks so thank you very much CCT! Wednesday: Whilst Jon P started to erect the scaffolding with the help of Amanda, Thibaud and Caitlin, we were on our way to begin the dismantling of Bowbridge lock back to sound brick and mortar. Once the trench was dug and the scaffolding up we lifted the copers off the brickwork and rolled them back as far as they could go. Alex, Thibaud and Caitlin then started taking any loose brickwork down (not going too far back due to the copers still being above) and clearing the vegetation off the wall. Ben and Lucy did the same from the scaffold tower on the nearside wall. The block laying team continued on making great progress. Jane was being given a course in block-laying so an additional member was added to their team. Lucy, Jane, Jude and Chris sadly left us this evening so our numbers were dwindling on the run up to the last few days.
Wednesday evening a few of us drove up to Inglesham to collect some sandbags so we could start making a dam to try to control some of the silt so that we could (or the next camp could) start putting the stop plank groves in. It was a fruitless task on the Thursday (See Camp report from week three on best methods of doing this). Thursday and Friday carried on much the same as the previous days. Thursday morning was fairly tense as we awaited Ben’s arrival to breakfast with the results of his A level exams. He had done so well and I hope he’s having an amazing first term. On Thursday evening Martin Danks and Chris Byrne joined us and we went down to Sapperton Tunnel to show our campers and then headed to the very quaint pub right next to it whose name escapes me. [The Tunnel House ...Ed] Eventually on the Friday we received the pipes that we needed to divert the water. We fitted what we could for the next camp; however we were still two short so we weren’t able to get it under the bridge, and the problem of the water being in the lock fell unfortunately on the next week’s camp. Our block-laying was completed, so allowing week two to dive straight into laying stone on the wall. It was a great camp, I would like to say thank you to my many cooks and also to all the volunteers who made mine and Nick’s first time of co-leading thoroughly enjoyable. Amber Jenkins
Preparing for reinstating coping stones
Week two carries on the good work at Bowbridge, rebuilding the towpath wall above the lock, reinstalling coping stones, and wrestling with a water pipe... Bowbridge Lock 16-23 August
Camp Report ...and the Cotswold again collapse by Bowbridge a few weeks before our camp and Mick led a team repairing this by sorting and cleaning stones and then laying them using OPC mortar. We were satisfied to complete a full course of about 30 yards of stone that will have given a considerable boost to the work of Cotswoldâ€™s own towpathing team as they continue with the repair. Mick was particularly pleased with D of E Poulami who did good work on this all week. The mixer rarely stopped all week, alternating between OPC and lime mortar mixes. Will and Mike emerged as particularly efficient mix masters in this position. We managed to get training from the local Trust to use a jack hammer and volunteers took it
All photos by Bill CCT
We were the jam in the sandwich at Bowbridge this summer; taking the middle of three planned camps at the site. Martin Danks and I chose to co-lead, ably assisted by Chris Byrne who heroically spent most of the camp up to his neck in lock silt. We were also fortunate to have Mick Lilliman as Most Useful Person. His experience and skills were particularly invaluable as we had a large number of new faces to support over the week. I was impressed yet again with how smart and stoical the Duke of Edinburgh volunteers were. We had six in total this time and they coped very well with the work and adapting to WRG life, with some real stars emerging through the week. We needed level heads and strong shoulders to take turns doing difficult and potentially hazardous pipe work down in the lock. Our main task for the camp was to divert water round Bowbridge lock by running a water pipe through the lock and along 25 feet of mud-filled culvert. We did manage thisâ€Ś for about 40 minutes. It was very disappointing when one of the pipes split just as we completed the water diversion, taking us right back to square one. Chris and his team labored in deep silt all week trying to find a solution so it was a frustrating result. It was very useful to have level-headed volunteers such as Stuart and Alex for demanding work like this. A small team completed some excellent work replacing coping stones around both wing walls, following only a half day training by Alan Lines. We had a couple of French volunteers, Thibaud and Camille, who chiefly drove this work forward together with Will, Tom and Patrick. This was quality work safely done which we were very pleased with. Putting copers on the wing wall at Bowbridge Lock There had been a towpath
in turns to remove damaged brickwork from the main lock chamber walls. Socially it was a camp that constantly changed as we were providing B&B for a number of familiar WRG faces attending the Saul festival and other projects. Martin and I felt that experienced WRGies were a little outnumbered by inexperienced hands, which made things a bit harder work as we tried to establish domestic and site routines. This situation improved later in the week as we were joined by people with more experience of camps. These included Valerie (Tasterella) who made her usual contribution to the social cohesion of the camp by drawing everyone into the conversation. Midway through the week we were joined by Christine and Mike, a couple who’d enjoyed their first camp so much on the Lancaster canal a fortFun with mud and pipes night previously that they signed up for two half weeks of camps. Mike took a turn on the mixer and Chris made a good job of ‘polishing’ the towpath vegetation. They were both a great help back at the accommodation making things shipshape. Hamon Stewart dropped by for the day and was shameless exploited by myself and Martin for the short time he was there, completing the site kit check amongst other things. We were initially without a cook for the week but were lucky to get assistance from many directions, including Filippo who cooked several meals and did sterling work at breakfast time, and my own mum who pitched up with some gigantic Shepherds’ pies for us. We also sourced some good local ice cream from Winstones at their factory just above the worksite. On the last evening the French volunteers Thibaud and Camille made a terrific meal including cheese, crepes, saucisson and an excellent ratatouille and an apple tarte tatin and we were joined by locals Bill, and Jon Pontefract and family for dinner. The lack of domestic support from a dedicated cook meant volunteers such as Filippo and Andy were dragged all over Gloucestershire in search of sandbags, floor cleaner and other sundries! Later Andy did a very good job of cleaning back at the accommodation, which in true WRG style we left cleaner than when we arrived. Progress with the towpath wall above the lock Sophie Smith
Finally up in East Yorkshire, a canal camp that combines the first week on the Pocklington Canal for some years with the first ever on the Driffield Navigation
Camp Report The ‘Driff-Pock’ camp
“Morning, campers!” delivered with much gusto from the newly ordained WRG canal camp leader, Appropriately enough for a camp split across Colin Hobbs. As a student on holiday from univertwo canals, we’ve also got two camp reports sity for 15 weeks, the sudden re-emergence of for Canal Camp 20014-18. So we’ve interquarter to 8 starts came as quite a shock to my leaved them together. Over to Kieran first... system but was thankfully alleviated with the aid of large fried breakfasts. For the work that was to I first heard about the Waterway Recovery come on the first two full days, I can say in hindGroup through the Duke of Edinburgh sight that I really needed the energy from those website. As I was searching through the list breakfasts; as much as I could get as a vegetarian of Approved Activity Providers, I found WRG anyway. near the bottom of the list. The low price of As a first for WRG there were two sites on £8 a day lured me in, and as I read more, I this camp... ended up choosing the Driffield Navigation & At first I worked on the Pocklington Pocklington Canal as my chosen residential. site, with Colin as the leader. Whilst it only Not only was the location relatively easy to took 5 minutes by van to get there, the get to, but the work looked fun, and two presence of a digger, required us to walk for different sites should provide variety in case I a total of an hour there and back due to its got bored. Luckily for me, there was no slow pace. Before we had arrived, a stump chance of that happening. grinder had been through already, cutting up When I arrived at the accommodation outreaching tree roots and creating a much along with the rest of the group, it turned smoother towpath, although we still had a out we were in the equivalent of a 5* hotel... lot of work to do. Whilst two of us chopped away at the hedge to allow the digger to get Now let’s hear from Hari... past, the others used rakes to flatten and spread out the path, making it wider. Whilst If you’re reading this then I’m sure that you will be we aimed for 3 metres, in places it wasn’t aware that WRG Canal Camp accommodation feasible. The digger was invaluable, allowing “can best be described as basic”. During our stay a lot more dirt to be shifted in the time we in one of Pocklington School’s boarding houses, had. Alongside some parts of the path we the privilege of which usually costs pupils in placed down wooden boards with stakes to excess of £20,000 a year, basic meant having two help prevent the path from eroding into the lounges equipped with Sky TV (movies, sports and canal. In some ways we were punished for all), pool tables, sofas and air hockey. More signifi- our success, as the more work we did, the cantly though, for those who have been on previlonger it took to actually get to the site, until ous camps and endured sleeping in a sleeping bag on the last day, it took longer getting there in a room with twenty others and travelling elseand back than it did to actually finish off the where for showers, there were beds galore (even work! At one point the stump grinder had to single rooms for some) and bathrooms down the be called again to clear some roots to allow corridor. So lying in my bed that first night after the digger to pass, and it was quite cool to having enjoyed a meal cooked by an amateur chef, see a remote control engine cut its way Monique, (apparently this luxury is standard across through, although we did have some work the WRG camps), a trip to a local pub and watch- raking the earth flat after it had gone past. ing the highlights of Manchester United lose to The one that I was sent off to first, Driffield Swansea (some things remained the same), I Canal, was half an hour away from the accommocounted myself very lucky at having transferred dation and the task set was an ambitious one. my booking from the Cotswolds. Using the slashers, saws, loppers, rakes and bush Our mornings began with a wake-up call of cutters at our disposal we were to carve a path
Pocklington and Driffield Canals
fruit stew as well as visits from the press including the Driffield Times and Post and the Hull Daily Mail. On Wednesday I moved to the Driffield Site, at Whinhill Lock, where we were using brush cutters and choppers to clear away hedges and branches to clear a path alongside the canal. We had to be extra careful at times due to the fact that we had to keep the path at least 1 metre away from the road, and the fact that the path On the Pocklington: levelling the path surface (above) could dip sharply at times and installing the wooden towpath edging (below) towards the canal. However this ended up being my favourite part of the work over the week. It was a lot easier to see how far you had reached for one, and it was very satisfying using the brush cutters on stubborn sets of brambles, although everyone ended up getting stabbed at least once! At first, clearing away loose foliage was relatively easy, resulting in a large pile of debris just to the side of the start of our path. However, as the path grew longer, it bethrough the thick undergrowth next to the canal came necessary to create piles further along and create a nature trail for the public. I found the the path as well, as negotiating some parts job most satisfying when I was at the front of the of the path were getting too difficult, espegroup and taking on the role of Indiana Jones: cially when dragging a 8-9 foot branch hacking through the impeding nettles, brambles alongside you. and overhanging branches to uncover new walkWhile it initially seemed that Driffield was able path. Every hero needs a good sidekick the site that took longest to get to, affectionately though doing the less glamorous work and this called â€œthe dark sideâ€? by us, I found out on the involved some of us at any one time using the remaining four days of work that while the Pockother bush cutter and rakes to go back over the lington canal was a tantalising 3 minute drive decimated shrubbery and complete its demise by away, getting to the site itself involved a 20 taking out anything left standing and tossing it to minute walk with a 2mph digger. The objective at one side. Despite the tiring work and the ever Pocklington shared the simplicity of Driffield in increasing long walk back for tea breaks, often that all that was required was to widen the towlugging extraordinarily large branches behind us, path by a foot or so. This though required a great the team cleared over 300m of path over the deal of work in soil being lifted by the digger from course of the week! This achievement was well one side of the path to the other and then two or rewarded through daily gifts from members of the three of us raking behind it to even out the surlocal canal societies such as chips and hand-picked face. On the narrower stretches of towpath we
even had to hammer in wooden posts and nail them to planks to keep the newly added soil in place (Natural Englanders don’t worry - we covered up said boards with earth to maintain the natural ambience of the nature). While we were not treated to the luxuries of the Driffield group, we did have a great deal of assistance in the labour from members of the Pocklington Canal Amenity Society who did a lot of work with a stump cutter and rakes which enabled and supported ours. In particular we were grateful for the enthusiasm of Dick who with his dead-pan humour and help kept us motivated and cheerful through what was quite a monotonous task. One highlight I and others on the camp enjoyed was the amount of support we received from the locals. Every day, someone would be coming along the footpath and remarking on how well we were doing. The Driffield workers (or the Dark side as it was collectively known) even got brought fish and chips once. Members of the PCAS or the DNT would sometimes appear and help us out with some of the work. While our days were spent working hard, Colin and co-camp leader Jenny Preparing to deal with the Driffield’s undergrowth ‘Digger’ Morris came up with inspired ideas for our evenings which were well supported by the mushrooms with halloumi and bean burgers, was a excellent facilities in the boarding house and many nice opportunity to meet up with the members of cold ciders and beers. Among these was a trip to a societies associated with both canals and reflect pub quiz where knowledge of: dog breeds named on the work carried out as well as thanking them after Croatian provinces (Dalmatian), 20th century for their assistance and support. A great deal was achieved on this camp that will enable the local Conservative party leaders who never quite made the cut (William Hague), and anagrams of histori- communities of Driffield and Pocklington with cal figures (galore – Al Gore) was of vital imporsuch rich histories surrounding their canals to enjoy them even more in the future. As well as the tance. Both teams that we entered got past the 30/40 mark but my team, the Young Mouts, local societies’ members, this camp could not have (cunningly derived from Old Mout – my drink for happened without the organisational and leaderthe evening, a kiwi flavoured New Zealand cider) ship skills of Jenny and Colin, the efforts of managed to pip the other by a point with the help Monique in keeping us well fed and the entire of veteran quizzer Chris Finn. The evening after team of twelve which worked very well together. the quiz proved to be quite peaceful with a narrow We will be back; if not for more work then for a boat trip down Pocklington Canal, cuppa included, holiday! in which we all got to have a go steering the boat. I would particularly like to thank Colin, who was an amazing camp leader, always Despite moments of veering dangerously close to either bank, due to the confusion of pushing the ready to joke or work, and Jenny, who was tiller bar left to turn the boat right and vice versa, assistant leader and who led the Driffield site. we made it safely back to shore. Overall, this was a thoroughly enjoyIt was the final evening though that was able experience, and I look forward to doing most memorable with a barbecue outside the it again sometime. accommodation that, along with providing some Kieran DeSouza excellent vegetarian food in the form of grilled Hari Prabu
WRG BC News from our boat club The Shackerstone Disaster We were all set to go to Shackerstone for the Festival and the boat club AGM - in fact we were on our way - when on the 22nd August I received a message from the Canal & River Trust saying that, due to a recent agreement with Natural England, all visitor and casual moorings in the area were suspended and mooring would only be allowed on particular sections between bridges 46-53. These specific moorings had been identified and I should contact the Festival organisers. The organisers said that just that week they had got a problem with the moorings and were very restricted to the number of boats able to attend. In effect the moorings were full. They urged those booked to work at the Festival to arrive as soon as possible. One couple we know, who were booked to work, got there over a week before the Festival and were moored a mile from the site! Obviously there was no point in proceeding further so I informed as many club members as possible and we turned back. Why was this happening? There had been no problem before and this is the 10th year of the Festival. Natural England INSISTED on restricted moorings at this year’s Festival and the imposition of certain conditions “to prevent damage, from anticipated boat movements”, to aquatic plants that grow at the edges of the canal. These plants have grown there while boats have been travelling and mooring on the canal, why will they suddenly suffer? Boats and wildlife have coexisted for over two hundred years, it’s pollution that kills wildlife not boat movements. Why have CRT allowed English Nature to dictate these draconian terms? What right have they to “move on offenders”? Is a canal, a navigation, part of a transport system or part of a narrow pond and nature reserve? For what reason are we working so hard to restore canals? Who is paying for the 200m ‘nicospanning’ which has been erected? Will there be any compensation from
A three-page extended article from WRG BC, including the story of the Shackerstone Disaster, and a report from the AGM that never was... English Nature for the loss of revenue from the Festival as there will be less boats attending and many will be too distant from the site? Why do I call it the Shackerstone Disaster? Well it certainly seems disastrous to me! If this indicates the way things are going the future doesn’t look good. Editor’s note: without wanting to detract from the general (and fully justifiable, to my mind) miffed-ness of the people who had boated considerable distances to be at Shackerstone, I hope Sadie doesn’t mind me adding a little further information. It appears that someone from the local angling club, which has (rightly or wrongly) long been unhappy at its fishing being interrupted by the annual festival, waited until just a couple of weeks before the event to send in an objection to NE, on the grounds that the boats mooring for the event would cause serious damage to plant life in the canal. NE felt the need to act on the complaint, and gave CRT a long list of requirements including no double mooring. CRT arranged a meeting with NE, and got agreement to a less draconian list of requirements, subject to the Nicospan temporary protection being installed - but clearly it still had a major effect on mooring space. My distinct impression is that CRT were fairly hacked-off about an issue that blew up very quickly as a result of a last-minute intervention by the anglers at a time when key staff from all the organisations concerned were away on holiday, and that they hope to reinstate the usually good relations between CRT and NE which have seldom led to this kind of issue in the past on the navigable network. Note the last four words sadly the same can’t be said about the canals under restoration, where there’s a long history of obstruction by nature interests. The latest being an application by CRT for permission to relocate newts to allow a canal society to carry on its volunteer work on a canal restoration project - which NE sat on for four months, and then refused.
WRG Boat Club News The AGM – see ‘The Shackerstone Disaster’ to clarify what didn’t happen! No one disagreed with the accuracy of the minutes from the previous AGM. There were no matters arising. The club officers’ reports have been circulated to those members for whom I have an accurate email address! For the others these will be attached here. Allocation of funds/donations. – it has been suggested that we/I ascertain if the Ashby Canal Association made a loss on the Shackerstone Festival and if this will affect funds for restoration. If we can donate funds to be used for materials or plant to aid restoration, some of the money could go there. Please let us know of your preferences for donations. Elections – well no members have rushed up to offer to take on any of the jobs so I assume all are happy for those in office to carry on. (PLEASE suggest somebody to join our ranks!) The Roger Jeffries Trophy aka The Bowl – well, I hope you toasted all the other
club members as nobody was actually present! I toast you all, so loyal are our members, considering this AGM is ‘incompetence at its best’ par excellence! Future Plans – it has been suggested that we could gather at IWA’s gathering at Northampton in August next year. Again please let us know your feeling about this or of any place where we could gather members together. There was no other business (so far). I cannot say the meeting was declared closed seeing as it either never opened or is still ongoing! Officers’ Reports follow... Sadie Heritage Commode Door’s Report: First I apologise for missing this year’s AGM. I am at the bi-annual Canal Festival at Maesbury Marsh on the Montgomery Canal where we held our AGM 2 years ago. This year Sadie is holding the ‘virtual’ AGM on the Ashby Canal. We hope to circulate reports from the committee to members prior to this and enable you to send any comments to us.
After the trouble at Shackerstone (see opposite) it’s good to be able to bring you some more cheerful news from the Ashby, where boating WRGie Colin Hobbs happened to be around to snap the next restored length of the northern reaches all ready for rewatering and (inset) the first water going in a few days later.
We need to think where/when to hold future AGMs as there will no longer be National Festivals at the end of August. Let us have your suggestions. Our last AGM was at Huddlesford Junction on the Coventry Canal in the clubhouse. I hope you have all managed some terrific boating this year with the summer weather being kind to us (so far). I have been out and about in the North West to Ellesmere port Boat and Sea Shanty gathering at Easter and the IWA campaign rally at Chester which was very well supported and a chance to meet other club members. The role of Commode door is not very demanding. Sadie does all the hard work. I would like to say a huge thank you to her for all she does for the club especially writing an article for Navvies each issue. I often get a phone call asking if I have any ideas about what we could include in the news letter and despite me being no help at all she always has something relevant to publish. Sadie THANK YOU from me and I’m sure this is also from everyone else. Wearing my other hat/t-shirt as AWCC rep, I attend the Association of Waterways Cruising Club meetings. They are probably the largest group representing the interest of boat owners and private moorings and lobby CRT and parliament on our behalf. AWCC has been working hard for us this year on issues of cycling on towpaths and mooring management. I regret I could not attend the AWCC 50th Rally at the Black Buoy Cruising Club. Erica our Midland Region Secretary keeps us well informed and you can find out what’s going on by logging onto AWCC website and reading Alert. I think one change I have witnessed recently is the greater emphasis on using volunteers on our waterway. WRG still makes a huge contribution to restoration and there are also plenty of opportunities to become involved through local IWA/CRT and canal societies. Have any club members joined in work parties, clean ups, painting, and litter picking or Himalayan Balsam bashing? This is my fourth year as a volunteer lock keeper on the River Trent but I have not seen any club members yet this year. I still have some WRG Flags available at only £10. This enables us to recognise you when out cruising. Lynne Cater
Treasurer’s Report: The current bank balance (statement 5 August) shows the bank balance at £213.87; there is one cheque outstanding for £50 making the closing balance for the year £163.87. With 2014/2015 subs now due, we can expect a healthy balance of about £550.00 by November time; this is when all subs have usually been received. Income for the year amounted to £423.50 with expenses of £378.64 (this included a donation to the Lichfield & Hatherton Canal Trust of £200). The Secretary only claimed for postage, effectively donating all other expenses to funds. Donations have now been made of over £4,200 to various canal projects of which a list is available. Accounts have been sent to the Secretary, who will email to anyone who requests a copy. Ann Smart Secretary’s Report: The club membership is at present 40, that is usual, but the membership fluctuates a little, we do have some leaving and some joining. A couple of members left without letting me know i.e. they just stopped paying the standing order (tch!), others have joined us. If you know of any boating WRGie wishing to join us please give them my email address, postal address or phone number so they can text me. I have ordered some more membership cards so look out for the new design this year. Last year I sent out your new cards out with the famous(?) Club Christmas Card. This meant that the Christmas Card came early but the membership cards a bit late, but also the club saves on postage! I attended the AWCC AGM at Stafford Boat Club last March. It brought home to me how important our membership of the AWCC is – not only for the help other clubs give to us but for the vital role AWCC plays in supporting boaters on a national scale with both the Government and Canal and River Trust. All our news is usually imparted via Navvies but this year I have sometimes had to communicate via email for some things of a more urgent nature, if you think you missed out on this PLEASE let me have your up to date email address. Remember our club motto – incompetence at its best – and the fact that technology and I do not get on too well. Thank you for putting up with my bumbling about for another year. xxx Sadie Heritage
Reporting on a successful plant training weekend on the Wilts & Berks and looking forward to some more training next year...
Training Note the date: 13-14 June the end, over the two days, we had 27 volunteers, which included Ron Kirby and six volunteers from Cotswold Canal Trust, who brought over their mini-excavator. Although we didn’t get an excavator from Rapid Hire as their machines were late returning from hire, in all, we had the choice of three excavators for training, a 4-wheel drive dumper, a 2-wheel drive dumper and two tractors with different mowing attachments. We set a marquee up on my garden lawn, with a Burco running all day for tea or coffee, and Di supplied lunch for those who required it. The weather was on our side, and the 27 volunteers achieved passes in 39 categories. The instructors worked their socks off, and were pretty hoarse by the end of the weekend. Trainees came from as far afield as Northampton and Hereford & Gloucester in addition to the Wilts & Berks and CCT. Rachael Banyard
Training Weekend 2014 I had been thinking of running a training weekend for the Wilts & Berks Canal Trust, and when I mentioned it at our Restoration Committee Meeting, George Eycott (Bungle) asked if I could include an evaluation of two excavators which WRG were thinking of purchasing. These were two Volvo machines, one with the zero tail swing and one with the standard swing. I approached Rapid Hire, who had loaned us free of charge an excavator and dumper last year, to see if they could support us again this year, which they agreed to do subject to machines being available. We agreed on a date of 13th/14th September. Jenny Black arranged for the Volvo machines to arrive, complete with their representative to explain their capabilities to George and myself. The next task was to entice sufficient instructors to come along, namely Hamon Stuart, Martin Thompson, Bob Airey, Dave Wedd, Adrian Sturgess, George, Digger (Adam Morris) and myself. Dave and Adrian stayed at my cottage for the weekend. In
We have decided that after not running the usual full training weekend in late spring or early summer this year, we are going to run one in 2015. We don’t have details of the site yet, but we do have a date: the weekend of 13-14 June 2015. Note it in your diaries, and look out for more information in future issues of Navvies, including the usual appeal for people to tell us in good time what they want to learn (be it machinery operation, vehicle driving, construction skills such as bricklaying, first aid or whatever) so we have the best chance of being able to plan it. And we would, of course, very much appreciate it if our instructors can keep that date clear.
We do hope to run another leader training day in 2015 - probably around May. More Coming back in ’15 - the WRG training weekend information in future issues.
Driver authorisation The categories explained
As the WRG Driver Authorisation Scheme reaches 10 years since its last major revamp...
Driver Authorisation update What were we doing 10 years ago? The “Right Tool for the Right Job” appeal was in full swing, this was the hugely successful appeal which paid for a massive investment in equipment and vehicles. We were running GCW, VOJ, SAD (the original huge 17 seat one), and RFB (the original one) as our camps vans, and Jonathan found some mug to buy NJF off us. There was a canal camp report by ‘Just John’ in Navvies that was entirely fictitious, and only ONE PERSON noticed! Mr. Mac was 80. wrgSW was launched. Bungle won the novice trophy for boat handling at Little Venice, while wearing a bear costume. A picture of which my work colleagues still occasionally produce to this day. Talking of Cavalcade, it was the last year KESCRG ran the site services for the event. I was helping the team at Claverton rebuild the WRG KL15 crane (and I still get asked about it now). Jonathan sold Eddie’s Land Rover to Adrian (obviously, it was still Eddie’s Land Rover even two owners later). There was a photo shoot for the WRG calendar (yes, that one) – see Navvies 204 for out-take pictures. The National Waterways Festival was at Burton on Trent (the first time), where it was very wet and we were towing in most of the traders. (except the bar truck which we had to drag in with a Tirfor). Other camps were on the Hereford & Gloucester, Cotswolds, Wilts & Berks, Grand Western, Wey & Arun, Mon & Brec, Caldon, Basingstoke, Lancaster, Lichfield & Hatherton, and Grantham Canals – hmm, some things don’t seem to change. Also, we decided that we needed to sort out our databases: believe it or not, at that time if you were involved in WRG your address was recorded in three different databases held by three different people in three different counties– The Navvies subscriber list, the Driver Authorisation system and the Camps Database. So when you moved it could be challenging to make sure your WRG post arrived with you and not your parents, uni digs, ex girlfriends etc. And woe betide someone doing something as obscure as getting married and hence changing their name, address and wanting a joint Navvies subscription. As part of the database work, we made the decision to refresh the Driver Authorisation Scheme – yep, the current DA scheme is 10 years old this year. Still reading? Good, I have just got to the point… Those of us who were involved at the time will probably remember sitting around Jonathan’s dining room table, and in the back of GCW and various other more impromptu meeting places, going through all the DA forms we received. We have had a number of queries about the scheme recently so we thought it was a good opportunity to go through the categories and clear up misunderstandings.
The Categories It is important to note that the categories are cumulative, so if you have 1c, you also have 1b and 1a. For fun I have included in brackets at the end the number of people who have each category. The DA scheme is recognised and used for all WRG camps and local groups as well as some canal societies (for example Wilts & Berks Canal Trust). Some local societies run their own equivalent scheme which may or may not accept a WRG card.
...George ‘Bungle’ Eycott clears up some confusion about what the categories mean
Driver authorisation the categories explained
1a – Goods vehicles up to 3.5t gross vehicle weight (DVLA Category B on your driving licence). An example of this is the new Iveco panel van used by WRG Plant and seen on the Mon and Brec this year. Other more specialist hired-in vehicles under this category could include tippers/pickups etc. Though if it has more than three seats it comes under passenger carrying – see category 2. [107 operators, of whom 17 are instructors] 1b – Goods vehicles up to 7.5t gross vehicle weight (DVLA category C1). An example of this would have been the WRG Beavertails (now sold) or larger trucks that we have hired in for the National Festival in the past. Note that just because your licence has this category does not mean you should apply for it unless you have the relevant experience. Also, there are additional regulatory restrictions on drivers of these vehicles now (e.g. drivers’ CPC) and as we no longer have a vehicle covered under this category it is unlikely that we will approve further applications. [28 operators, of whom 7 are instructors] 1c – Rigid HGV’s (DVLA category C). Big trucks that don’t bend in the middle. Included for completeness but unlikely to receive applications. [3 operators, of whom 0 are instructors] 1d – Articulated HGV’s (DVLA category C+E). Big trucks that do bend in the middle. Included for completeness but unlikely to receive applications. [3 operators, of whom 1 is an instructor] 2a – Minibus up to 9 seats (DVLA category B). Confident van drivers over 25 can apply for this category; it is strange how much more stressful driving a van can be with 8 ‘helpful’ passengers offering advice…. Note that the number of seats includes the driver, so only 8 passenger seats. [70 operators, of whom 4 are instructors] 2b – Minibus up to 17 seats (DVLA category D1). Same comments at 2a but more so, only available to drivers who passed their car driving test before 1997 (after that date new licences did not include this category) or who have undergone a further driving test to include minibuses. Note that in general if you are applying for category 2 and your licence covers category D1, then you would normally apply for 2b rather than 2a. [97 operators, of which 24 are instructors] 3a – Four wheel drive up to 9 seats (DVLA category B). Used to be known as Land Rovers but other makes considered! [19 operators, of whom 5 are instructors] 3b – Four wheel drive up to 17 seats (DVLA category D1). As 3a but with more passengers (Land Rover used to make a 12 seat Defender for example). Only available to drivers who passed their car driving test before 1997 (after that date new licenses did not include this category) or who have undergone a further driving test to include minibuses. Note that in general if you are applying for category 3 and your license covers category D1, then you would normally apply for 3b rather than 3a. [45 operators, of whom 11 are instructors] 4a Site trailer. A trailer primarily designed for use on site being towed behind a site vehicle (dumper/ tractor etc.). [34 operators, of whom 4 are instructors] Conveniently we have run out of space just before category 4b, which simply consists of the letters TBC (presumably ‘To Be Confirmed’) - I bet you can hardly wait for part 2 next time...
Congratulations to Helen Gardner and Graham Raeburn on the arrival of Dominic John on 5 September weighing 8lb 3oz to Helena and Krzysiek Rosiecki on the arrival of Rozalia Anne on 1 September weighing 8lb 4oz to Louise and Ben Tingay on the arrival of Abbeygail Harriet on 12 October weighing 7lb 9.5oz and to Izzy and Andrew Rutter on the arrival of Lucy Rachel on 13 October weighing 6lb 6oz and finally to Richard Worthington and Rowena Gaskell on their engagement
Dates for your diaries BCN Clean Up: 18-19 April Training weekend: 13-14 June. More next time
Send used stamps, petrol coupons, phone cards, empty computer printer ink cartridges to IWA/WRG Stamp Bank, 33 Hambleton Grove, Milton Keynes MK4 2JS. All proceeds to canal restoration.
to Chris Griffiths of Stroudprint for continued assistance with Navvies printing
Moving house David and Jenny Worthington have moved to 41 Fenton Place, Porthcawl CF36 3DW Roger and Sue Burchett have moved to The Cottage, 9 The Old Vicarage, Vicarage Road, Bishopsworth BS13 8EX If you move house, don’t forget to tell Navvies
Coming soon... ...in the next issue, the Camps Brochure for 2015, part two of Bungle’s epic on Driver Authorisation, and a Reunion report
Contacting the chairman: Mike Palmer, 3 Finwood Rd, Rowington Warwickshire CV35 7DH
Tel: 01564 785293 email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Apologies... ...for having to hold a couple of items over till next time owing to lack of space. One of the results of running 30% more camps is that you get 30% more camp reports! Speaking of which, there are still a couple of summer camps that haven’t sent in camp reports. Come on, don’t be shy!
Dial-a-camp To contact any WRG Canal Camp: 07850 422156 (Kit ‘A’ camps) 07850 422157 (Kit ‘B’ camps)
On bottle openers, dull canals, railway stations and food safety concerns...
Infill The search for dullness goes on...
Toolbox Talk Opening a bottle of cider/beer It came to my attention during the Driffield / Pocklington canal camp that a tool that looks like nothing more than a corkscrew can also be handily used as a bottle opener. I therefore felt obligated to share this knowledge to the wider canal-loving populace. 1.
There may come a time when you request a bottle opener and instead of the usual (see figure 1.) you are presented with a winged fig 1 corkscrew (see figure 2.). Do not panic. While the corked end of the corkscrew appears particularly inviting do not (I repeat DO NOT) place the corkscrew on top of the bottle cap in the fashion of opening a wine bottle at risk of arousing general mirth. fig 2 Instead, place the top end of the winged corkscrew, where you would hold it if opening a wine bottle, around the bottle neck but just beneath the bottle cap with the piece of metal protruding from the ring coming into contact with the cap. From this position, lift the bottom end of the winged corkscrew upwards (the bit in which the actual corkscrew bit is enclosed) and exert a gentle pressure on the cap which should lead to a sharp pop and the cap coming free. If too much pressure is exerted from leverage the cap may fly off towards another drinker/diner. If this occurs, move to pick up the cap and as doing so with a curt nod of the head apologise profusely for one’s clumsiness. Place the now opened bottle to lips and enjoy the cool, refreshing taste of whatever beverage you have chosen to tickle your taste buds (salutary greeting with other drinkers optional). Hari Prabu
In search of dull canal names David Mack has responded to my editorial challenge to come up with uninspiring real waterway names on a par with Gas Street Basin, the Dismal Swamp Canal and India’s Boring Canal Road... Rather closer to home than your Indian and American examples, the Greasbrough Canal conjures up images of a grimy northern industrial waterway, even if its alternative name of Earl Fitzwilliam’s Canal sounds altogether more classy. This 1.5 mile 4 lock canal branching from the River Don below Rotherham succumbed to railway competition around 1840, although a short length remains in water.
Meanwhile the volunteers from Camp 10 on the Cromford Canal (see pages 22-24) sent the above photo (captioned ‘Sod the camp, we’re getting the train’) showing themselves waiting on the platform of the railway station that they’d salvaged from the canal.
Cook safely, folks... Finally, Sophie from London WRG showed how seriously she takes the concerns within WRG about appropriate food safety when she produced these home-made safety gingerbread men, complete with hard-hats and hivis waistcoats.
Tess Hawkins An appreciation Tess Hawkins (1947 - 2014) When someone dies after a long illness we are hard pressed to know what to say, or even what we ‘should’ feel. Tess’s death reminds us that conflicting feelings are normal at times like this. Those new to WRG in the last 8 years will never have met Tess and may even be unaware of her existence unless they are assiduous readers of Navvies, in which her name always appeared alongside John’s under Print and Assembly, even during her illness. This was entirely appropriate as it was Tess, trained as a bookbinder and then working in the printing industry, who originally suggested that she and John take on WRG Print when Mike and Meg Day had to give up. Perhaps it should stay there. Tess’s life was so intensely active that being stopped dead in its tracks by Pick’s Disease, a rare early-onset dementia, was a terrible blow. She had so much more to give to family, friends and the various organisations she supported, and with her death we have really lost her twice. However, we are left with many happy and perhaps inspiring memories - marshalling Andrew and Tracey (then both under 10) on site and in various village halls during the ‘Stratford Blitz’ in the late 70’s, helping Carol Rowe run the Sales Stand a little later, catering at some of the Reunions (including the 1991 ‘Big Dig’) and later joining the occasional Canal Camp and rather more weekend digs run by most of the local groups. If that wasn’t enough, as Tracey reminded us at the funeral (did everyone manage to get in?), she was ‘Brown Owl’ for the local Brownie pack and a dedicated canoe instructor, something, like driving, she came to relatively late in life. While focussing on Tess. we should not forget John’s part in keeping her a real part of the family, and of WRG, by visiting, feeding, watching over her interests, and taking her (and others - he became one of their minibus drivers) on outings from her care home, Chalfont Court in Rickmansworth, where she was so well looked after for the last 7 years of her life. Not just doing all this, but keeping those who knew her informed of her progress or, sadly, the opposite - while continuing to print Navvies and being the MUP on more Canal Camps than most of us will attend in our entire lives. We hope that the strong WRG presence at Tess’s funeral was a comfort to John and that he has many more caring friends within WRG who, for whatever reason, were unable to be there. Compiled by John Foley and Malcolm Bridge John Hawkins adds: Our heartfelt thanks to everybody who came to Tess’s funeral, all very much appreciated by all of the family - the number of people attending really amazed us. Please accept our apologies if we didn’t get to speak with you during the afternoon at the Halfway House – we just ran out of time. There is a Unit based at UCH in London that is carrying out research specific to the lesser known dementias (Tess had Pick’s Disease) and should you wish to make a donation then please send it to James Peddles, 10 Moneyhill Parade, Rickmansworth, Herts. WD3 7BE and made payable to ‘National Hospital Development Foundation’. After everybody had left the pub we were deliberating as to what to do about the family wreath in the shape of a kayak. Rather handily, the river that runs along the back of the pub was often paddled by Tess; and so we’ll leave the rest to your imagination!! John, Andrew and Tracey The photographs opposite were taken by John Hawkins on various waterway working parties, and are from a large selection of pictures of Tess that he put together as a slide show at the Halfway House pub.
Navvies - WRG magazine for volunteers restoring the waterways.