Kent and East Sussex Canal Restoration Group

3rd - 4th December 2011 Wilts & Berks Canal

The London WRG and KESCRG 2011 Christmas Party.

The first weekend of December saw the annual London WRG / KESCRG Christmas Party make a welcome comeback after having been cancelled at the last minute in 2010 due to our intended destination on the Chelmer and Blackwater being engulfed, along with much of the country, by a thick blanket of snow.

So this year the venue for the 50 or so party attendees was a return to scrub bashing on the Wilts and Berks, at the bottom of the 7 locks just north of Lyneham. Accommodation was in Chippenham – not, as on many memorable occasions in the past, at The Bridge Centre in the middle of its roundabout - but at the Sheldon School. This had the advantage of a very well equipped kitchen and lots of space, the only slight disadvantage being that one ‘lot of space’ was not necessarily next to the other ‘lot of space’. Beer (and cider) was of course present, both physically in the form of a couple of barrels of Moles and a barrel of Tunnel (many thanks to Ian and Abi for sourcing these) and ethereally as the theme of the Saturday evening fancy dress and quiz.

Work for the weekend was scrub bashing several hundred yards of canal and towpath between the bottom of lock 1 and Sodom Lane, clearing the canal banks and preparing the towpath hedge for laying. Saturday saw the forestry team wielding 6 chainsaws and taking out some of the bigger specimens from the canal bank and towpath hedge. Everyone else set about thinning out the hedge in preparation for laying, tirforing stumps and manning the several fires which were carefully constructed and controlled.

Saturday evening saw a most marvellous feast prepared by the fantastic reformed kitchen team of 2009 lead again by Eddie and Bungle with much help from Mel, Digger, Mk2 and Eli. The main course of Roast Turkey (courtesy of the Jeffries), Pork (courtesy of the Williamsons) and Beef, served along with all the usual trappings, including both vegetarian and non-vegetarian roasties and parsnips (something to do with whether they were engorged with incredibly delicious piggy fat, or were actually vaguely good for you. The finer details of this passed me by) was sandwiched by a very tasty soup and a fine selection of puddings.

The evening progressed to the fancy dress parade and quiz (via some exciting mechanical washing up. A dishwasher that bears a sign ‘This Machine is Dangerous’ is always going to be fun - especially if you put in just a little too much washing up liquid…). The beer themed fancy dress had, as always, many intriguing entries, and strangely a very large number of Bishops’ Fingers. A most excellent Quiz was prepared by Martin and Liz, and this was duly won by Mk2, his team just sitting back and looking on in awe at the master at work (though Richard and Rowena did provide the splendid ‘Diggers Arms’ for the creative round).

A leisurely start to Sunday saw the forestry team head to Pewsham locks for some serious tree felling…

… while everyone else returned to Sodom Lane to strip and log Saturday’s efforts, relight the fires and burn everything that didn’t move quickly enough… or hadn’t been put to one side by Di for the hedge laying.

So, many thanks to Bobby for organising the weekend, for Rachael & the Wilts and Berks for providing a decent scrub bash site and most of all to Eddie, George, Mel and the rest of the catering team for looking after us so well . Keep an eye on the Wilts and Berks Foxham and Lyneham branch web page for latest news on the restoration of this section of the canal. (

Stephen Davis (Photos courtesy of Alan Lines and Tim Lewis).

Eddie 030112

Back to Pictures