Wilts & Berks Canal Spring 2002


Camp report

"We never had to send Katy the dog to wake the oversleepers".      

    There were actually ten of us on the camp, including two new navvies, both narrowboaters, who fitted in very well, and worked extremely hard.  Young Tom was shattered by the end of the week, but hopefully he and Jeremy will be back for more some time.

    One of the biggest jobs on the camp was putting in 800 metres of 3-strand barbed wire fencing alongside the towpath hedge at the eastern end of the Dauntsey stretch.  This also involved taking out the old wire, which had been stapled to trees (preventing Di from laying them next Autumn/Winter, and cutting back the thick overhanging branches and brambles.

    The farmer, Philip Smith, made light work of putting the stakes in with his Matbro tractor.  It took a team two and a half days, but once again, the job was all finished.  Philip Smith said it would have taken him at least three weeks doing it on his own, so he was very grateful.

    We also poured approximately 12 cubic metres of concrete infill behind the offside lock wall on Lock Three at Seven Locks, this despite our large concrete mixer braking a chain, and the smaller mixer having to come into use for the last cubic metre.

    One afternoon we visited Valley Lock on the Thames and Severn to collect some large copping stones which were not needed there, so we could use them on the wing walls of Lock 3.

    We had a couple of Shower runs and swims during the week, plus a visit to the cinema, where we split up between ‘Spiderman’ and Tom Cruise’s latest film, the latter being so weird that I can’t remember the title.  I defy anyone, of whatever age, not to have found it decidedly weird!

    Di kept us well fed as usual, with plenty of sticky cakes lunchtime.

    I can’t remember a camp like this one where everyone crawled out of their sleeping bags by the ‘crack of sparrows’, and we never once had to send Katy, the dog, round to wake the oversleepers.  Breakfast was over and done with soon after 8 o’clock, and we were often on site by 8:30.

    Thanks again to Phil, Luke, David, Rob, Tom, Jeremy, Brian, Bernd and Di from both myself and our local workparty.


Rachael Banyard


Reprinted from Navvies No 194


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