Kent and East Sussex Canal Restoration Group


KESCRG run WRG summer Camp on the Wendover Arm, Grand Union Canal July 2012

Canal Camp Report from Claire Westrop

The Chilterns were invaded for a week in July by a hardy band of volunteers determined to make a difference to the local canal. With tools in hands and mud on boots we set to work on restoring the Whitehouses pumping station. Located in the dry section of the Wendover Arm, the site will eventually serve as an overflow point for the canal when it is in water once again. The excess water will be used to top up the nearby reservoir. Our mission was to restore the brickwork in the original settlement tank and arched culverts. Working alongside members of the Wendover Arm Trust we made good progress over the week, although there is much more still needing to be done.

Our lean, mean fighting team arrived in earnest on Friday night, taking over a local village hall. The group included newbies to canal restoration both young and old, as well as a strong backbone of experienced volunteers. A special mention must be made for our two pairs of volunteer cooks, without whom I doubt we would have survived the week with such high spirits and full stomachs. Our introductions were made, dinner was served and the team had been formed ready to start work the next day.

Claire Westrop

Saturday morning arrived and we travelled to site for the first time. The vast quantities of mud were a shock for the less experienced among us. There was lots of preparatory work to be done first: erecting fences around the gaping holes on site and clearing earth away from the settling tank walls. From there on the real work could commence: deconstructing the failed sections of wall and arches and cleaning the intact bricks ready to be used again.

Hard at it (Stephen Davis)

Brick Cleaning (Stephen Davis)

By Sunday the arches were beginning to be rebuilt and some of the remaining brickwork in the front wall of the settling tank was already being repointed. Monday saw marquees erected ready to protect the bricklayers as the rain came down. In the evening we were treated to an excellent presentation by Ray from the Wendover Arm Trust. For Tuesday afternoon three intrepid bricklayers and pointers stayed behind to continue working whilst the rest of us enjoyed a tour of the Chiltern Brewery. Wednesday lunchtime four young volunteers were given a break from work to have first lessons in operating an excavator, which were thoroughly enjoyed.

The Archers (Stephen Davis)

Tent City (Stephen Davis)

Paddle Hole (Stephen Davis)

Before we knew it, it was Thursday - our last day on site. The last courses of bricks were laid and our strapping lads loaded the dumper with heavy kit for the last time. With our work completed we sat down together for a stunning meal courtesy of our cooks. All that was left to do was to visit the local pub once more, before finally heading exhausted to bed.

Tank Wall (Bobby Silverwood)

Wharf wall finished (Bobby Silverwood)

Overall the camp has been a great success. We had a fantastic mixture of many different ages and backgrounds in our group, and I suspect many long friendships have been started over the week. We all had the satisfaction of doing good quality work, with lots of unexpected fun along the way. Thank you again to everyone involved!


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