So said Barry and Steph of Oldham Mountain Rescue Team after the third of our four training days at Bugsworth Canal Basin in March. And you can’t say fairer than that!
The weather was surprisingly good for all the training days, and the lunch at the Navigation Pub next to the site was equally good thanks to Jan the landlady, and her team, who served up a choice of hot lunches, most pepped up with a dash of chilli!
The training was part of the £76,400 Heritage Lottery Funded grant to repair a large section of washwall at the basin, which was drained before Canal & River Trust staff dismantled the masonry. The project was to rebuild the wall in the historic way using lime mortar, and the training gave both volunteers and staff the chance to learn heritage skills.
Bugsworth Canal Basin is a Scheduled Ancient Monument and so is protected by law, so all the work had received consent from the Secretary of State; a process which is administered by English Heritage.
And lovely though the site is, visited by hundreds of people every year, it was the volunteers and staff who made the training days so special. As Barry and Steph said, it was fun and enlightening, with a wide range of people sharing their ideas – and queries – not least about mortar mixes. The trainer for the days, Mark Womersley of Womersleys Ltd, seemed to spend quite a time discussing the rights and wrongs of builders who had carried out works at our trainees houses in the past! One such trainee was very keen to rush home to check the pointing on his new extension and he wasn’t the only convert to the glories of lime.
The broad range of volunteers, in both age and expertise only added to the ambience. Volunteers of the Inland Waterways Protection Society, who have restored the site over four decades, gave us the background to Bugsworth, and the Canal & River Trust apprentices and volunteers from the Environment and Heritage teams in Leeds, brought a certain youthful enthusiasm to the proceedings. Whilst concentrating on her pointing technique, Ecologist Siobhan managed to sit down in the muddiest patch behind the wall and was made to sit on a bin bag for her journey back to Yorkshire.
Bugsworth Canal Basin, at the head of the Peak Forest Canal, was the largest and busiest inland port on Britain's narrow canal system and the only one to survive intact. The subsequent dominance of the railways led to the demise of Bugsworth as a port, but we certainly brought it alive again for those four days in March.
Judy Jones, Heritage Advisor for North East and part of Manchester & Pennine Waterways
The work carried out by the heritage team is extremely varied, covering all sorts of structures and a wide variety of projects. Not one week is the same and we keep learning all the time, meeting some fascinating people and visiting stunning places along the way. We are hoping that through our blogs we can share some of our passion for the amazing industrial heritage of the inland waterways.See more blogs from this author