Sunday, 13 December 2009

December Work Party

The December work party was very well attended with quite a few new people there which is always good. One of the tasks was to replace the wooden fencing at Cogglesford Lock in Sleaford. Some local undesirables had stolen a scooter a month or two ago, lent it against the fence and set fire to it! This didn’t do the fence much good and made a mess of the scooter! Maybe one thing to be slightly grateful for was the fact that they didn’t then kick the remains into the lock. It would certainly have been more difficult to remove from there. The fence is now restored and probably more firmly installed than before because it was concreted in this time. There was also some remedial pointing to brickwork on the bridge so things look better overall.

Another group went off the Haverholme Lock to do a general sort out of vegetation and tidy up. Amazingly for December the weather was kind and the rain held off until everything was packed up. On days like that work parties are almost promotional events as there are usually any number of walkers stopping to chat and ask what’s going on.

Sunday, 29 November 2009

November Work Party

The November work party saw the final touches put to the works at Bottom Lock. Ever since last year it had been our intention to install quadrants to make pushing the gates easier and, incidentally, to improve the overall appearance of the lock.

A great deal of the work had been completed during the October work party. The quadrant on the Lock Island had been finished. This comprised of marking and digging out the area for the hardcore followed by mixing and laying the concrete. The final task was to set some cobbles into the concrete to push against when opening the gate. The second quadrant was also dug out in October but a lack of materials curtailed further work.

A small, but select, group assembled at Bottom Lock on the Sunday morning in November and got all the equipment and materials into the right place. This involved moving everything over the sluices, the lock island and the bridge over the lock! After the preparation work in October all that remained was to mix a large quantity of concrete to fill in the excavated area and then carefully set in the cobbles at regular intervals. Sounds simple but it did involve a lot of barrowing!

We had lunch in unseasonably warm weather, it’s not often you can sit out in t-shirts in November! The site was tidied up and we then went to Cogglesford Lock to assess the jobs for the December work party.

Steve Hayes

Sunday, 20 September 2009

Sleaford Sports Partnership Fun Day, Sunday 13th September

On the Sunday morning I went to pick up the trailer with all the gear in from storage and drove over to Sleaford Rugby Club. When I arrived I found that it was a lot windier than I had first thought and, although I got the large gazebo frame out of the trailer and its roof in place I decided that it would be a risky operation to go any further. Jenny Osbourne arrived shortly after and after enlisting help from some nearby RAF personnel we expanded the roof out to full stretch. Bearing in mind the wind, we were also very careful to attach the heavy duty guy ropes, it’s a large bit of canvas and I had visions of it being lifted off with us clinging to it floating towards Sleaford.

Despite trying to summon help from members of the work party at Cobblers (why is reception on mobiles awful when you have a real problem?) we made little real progress until Pat Taylor and Ellie Sowerby arrived with the stock. We had to use all the pegs to fasten down the walls of one gazebo that we would have normally used on both of them. Better safe than sorry!

The event proved popular with a steady stream of visitors to the stall and a great deal of support and interest was shown in the work of the Trust and in our current and future projects.

Thanks to all who helped in whatever capacity. It was good to be able to support a Sports Partnership event because on previous occasions dates have clashed and made our involvement very difficult.

Steve Hayes

Wednesday, 16 September 2009

National Waterways Festival 2009

Once again, August Bank Holiday saw the Trust in action to support and help man the Lincolnshire Waterways Partnership stand at the IWA National Waterways Festival at Redhill on Soar. Many members of the Trust had already been on site for two weeks prior to the Festival. They were working with Dave Pullen, our own Trust engineer, who was the Waterspace Manager for the event and their task was to install the moorings for the visiting boats at the Festival. I know their efforts were very much appreciated by the organisers.

Chris and I arrived at Redhill on the Thursday to get established on the caravan site. Putting the awning for up for the first time in windy conditions was, to say the least, interesting but was achieved in the end!

One of the highlights of the weekend is always the boaters’ quiz, this takes place on the Thursday night before the Festival and is put together by Martin Ludgate, Deputy Editor of Canalboat and Editor of Navvies. Chris and I were joined in the Beer Tent by three people from the Manchester IWA branch and agreed to form a team called, surprisingly enough, Cobblers. We felt that we had done quite well in most of the rounds and at the end were delighted to find that we had actually won the quiz. Not only that, the team only a few points behind us was also made up of Trust members. Well done to them as well, a clean sweep for the Trust and also £165 for our funds and a good start to the weekend.

Early on the Friday Keith and Allen arrived by van with both LWP and SNT display boards. The first job was to locate the marquee, not an easy task in the melee of people arriving to set their own stands! Having found it there was a problem, it wasn’t in the kind of layout that we were used to. The tent was end on to the main avenues and not facing as had been the case previously. There then ensued a period of head scratching to decide quite how we would rearrange the display. We eventually managed to sort out a layout that we felt worked. One of the considerations was not only how were the displays to be positioned but where could the kettle be. An important factor if you are on the stand for three days! The layout must have been good because neither Mary nor Dilys made any major changes when they arrived.

Fortunately it had been decided on the Friday to brace the displays against the marquee because, when we arrived on the Saturday and opened up the ends of the marquee, there was a huge through draft which can only be equated to that of a wind tunnel. Leaflets were blowing everywhere but we finally managed to catch them all and anchor them down. The nearby equipment stall did an extremely good trade as Dilys bought lots of clamps to secure the tablecloths and the leaflets. We were sure that it was a lot warmer outside the marquee than it was inside!

As usual Trust members did sterling work handing out the “Lincolnshire Plum Bread” an attraction that draws in return visitors every year. In fact at the Campaign Rally on the Chesterfield Canal we were asked where the Plum Bread was and had to say that that only happened at the National. Over the three days a total of fifteen loaves were buttered, cut up, and handed out! Pat Taylor, as usual, was in charge of the sales stall and did a magnificent job raising money for the Trust.

One of the aims of the stand is to promote Lincolnshire Waterways and also assess how many people were aware of recent developments and had visited the area. Visitors were asked to complete a questionnaire indicating their level of knowledge of the waterways and the sites they had visited. They were asked to highlight both what they had enjoyed and what improvements they would like to see. Trust members were on hand to explain additional details concerning LWP and SNT and it was gratifying to see the degree of interest and support expressed. Completed questionnaires revealed a surprising number of visitors to the Slea and supported anecdotal evidence that there have been many more boats on the waterway this year than before. All this means more evidence of the need for a winding hole in South Kyme and perhaps a weed-cutting programme!

Steve Hayes