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Nick driving dumperMy interest in canals is twofold. I love the bright, colourful decorations to be found on canal boats in England, and I paint these patterns onto all sorts of things, which I sell through mail order or my commercial website at

Why not have a look at my canal art page to find out more about the colourful world of roses and castles canal style painting...?

For several years I could often be found on a canal camp. This is where a group of volunteers (known as Navvies) get together and spend a weekend doing work on one of the many canal restoration schemes throughout the country. For health reasons I had to stop attending canal camps, but the memories of the camps and the navvies who attended are still b and we had a lot of fun!

Above left: Dumpers are an essential piece of machinery to Navvies

Below right: Clearing weed using a keb

Jen clearing weed

Below: Repointing under the arch of a bridge on the Lancaster Canal from a scaffolding platform

Ian re-pointing bridge stonework

Not being of a digging nature, my role was that of Cook - I saw to it that the volunteers, sometimes as many as 30 of them, were fed at least three times a day. Catering was done on a small budget which meant a lot of work in baking cakes and preparing puddings and vegetables rather than using ready-made stuff - but there were never any complaints that there wasn't enough food for everyone!

Mick watching weed clearance

Left: Clearing weed from a choked canal channel with hired plant - this piece of machinery came with its own driver, but many of the Navvies are qualified to use this type of equipment

Below right: Pressure-washing the stonework of a bridge and lock chamberPressure-washing the bridge


Some of the group's recent work has been on the Ribble Link which has finally joined the Lancaster Canal to the rest of the 2,000 odd miles of inland waterway network, whilst other work includes restoration of the Sedgwick Aqueduct and Tewitfield Locks on the Lancaster Canal. As well as working locally the group travels many miles to undertake projects on canals as far apart as the Chichester Canal in Sussex, the Droitwich Canal in the Midlands, and the Dearne and Dove in Yorkshire.

If you enjoy being out in the fresh air, don't mind hard work or getting wet and muddy, have a sense of humour, and think that you might enjoy helping restore old canals and preserve our transport heritage, why not have a look at the Navvies website too?



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