5th November 2016
The Waterway Recovery Group (WRG) held their Bonfire Bash on the Chesterfield and Cromford canals at the start of November. Over 70 volunteers came for this annual weekend event.
The WRGies, as they are known, give up their spare time to go on camps to help restore the nation’s canals. These camps are sometimes over weekends, but often last for one or two weeks. The Chesterfield Canal Trust has hosted very many WRGie camps in the last few years.
The Trust’s Publicity Officer, Rod Auton said: “We are hugely grateful for the help received from the Waterway Recovery Group on projects like the new Staveley Town Lock. It is incredible what a sudden influx of WRGies can do to add to the wonderful work done by our own volunteer Work Party. We have been very lucky that they have been able to come to us so often.”
The volunteers worked on four sites – Kiveton, Renishaw and Lowgates on the Chesterfield Canal and Ironville on the Cromford Canal.
The Chesterfield gangs were all involved in scrub bashing, i.e. cutting down trees, shrubs and undergrowth to expose the canal. The resulting logs soon disappeared to be used on local log burning stoves, often in return for a donation. The remaining scrub was burned. These fires, plus the time of year, lead to the title Bonfire Bash.
At Renishaw and Lowgates, the volunteers were removing vegetation along the line of the unrestored canal. At Kiveton, where the canal is in water, they were cutting back trees and saplings that had grown up alongside. They needed a boat to help, so the Chesterfield Canal Trust volunteers brought Python.
Python was built in 1929 and served as a working boat for over 70 years, latterly for British Waterways. The Chesterfield Canal Trust acquired it in 2009, when it had become surplus to requirements. It was used as a promotional boat at waterway rallies and carnivals until 2013, when it sprung a serious leak and major repairs were required to the hull. These were completed a year ago and the Trust’s volunteers are currently fitting out a new cabin. Python will continue to be a promotional boat for the Trust in the summer, but will help the Canal & River Trust with maintenance on the canal in the winter.
The Trust was also delighted to receive a large donation from WRG North West, presented by John Foley.
They have been cutting down the trees at the eastern end of the Norwood Tunnel at Kiveton. Here they are pulling a bag of cuttings up the bank from Python. Note the floating platform supplied by the Canal & River Trust.
You can see here that C&RT had their stand on site, just above the tunnel portal.
The floating platform had to be moved down the canal, so first it was tied to Python …..
….. which then reversed back to the required position …..
….. so that cutting back could continue. Note the one tonne bag neatly hung in the hold to take the cuttings.
This is not camera shake – a sapling is just hitting the water.
To pull the saplings up the bank, first a rope is attached …..
….. then there’s a lot of serious pulling …..
….. until it reaches the top.
Here another sapling is hitting the water …..
….. and another comes down.
The wood was carried along the towpath …..
….. up the slope to the field …..
….. were it was cut up into logs …..
….. with the rest being burned.
Here you can see one of the new vans. If you don’t know about the WRGies amazingly successful van appeal, click here.
Meanwhile the group at Renishaw were also hard at work.
Sometimes hand tools are the only way.
As you can see, a good length of overgrown bank was cleared.
On goes another ivy covered log.
There’s nothing like a good brew to warm up and get the smoke out of your throat.
At Lowgates there was a dramatic difference.
The fires here were really roaring.
The canal’s route was now clear.
As always, we are very grateful to the WRGies for their invaluable help and support.