'Mystic Arts' in the East

The Waterways Recovery Group are to construct a landing stage at Inglesham where the Thames & Severn Canal meets the Thames.

Before the deployment of diggers and piling rigs though, some ancient tools and somewhat mysterious skills have been applied.

Construction of the landing stage requires steel piling along the canal bank and excavations.  Thames Water were unable to confirm the location of the water supply to the Wharf House. Hand digging exploration has been without success.

Worried that the piling might cut the pipe, project leader Jon Pontefract shared his thoughts with Simon Walker chairman of the Waterway Recovery Group BITM team.

(‘BITM’ by the way refers to the team’s wide geographic origins.)

Simon’s response surprised Jon. “Dowsing or divining might confirm the presence of the pipe”. Simon went on to explain that he was an exponent of the art and had successfully used this technique before.

Jon takes up the story. “Simon joined me at Inglesham and we discussed the last known point at which water supply could be confirmed. Using two right-angled rods of copper core electrical cable, Simon traversed the site.

As he passed the line where I'd estimated the pipe to be, the rods turned inwards and crossed.

This happened again & again as Simon continued across the site.

Eventually, the presumed line of the pipe was marked.

That line indeed headed in the direction of the Wharf Cottage!

Simon readily discussed his skills and expressed a view regarding the title of this piece.

He commented, "Whilst divining is often presented as some form of black art there is almost certainly some proper science behind water divining – or using rods for searching for minerals. I would strongly defend the science – what ever it may be.

I consider it to be, and refer to it as, a ‘traditional method'.

The Result 

A WRG work party from KESCRG, Kent & East Sussex Canal Restoration Group, went to Inglesham on the weekend of 9th / 10th April.

Jon Pontefract explained where Simon Walker's divining had indicated the presence of water pipes.

An excavator was used to dig an exploratory trench. KESCRG's Martin Thompson took over with a long handled spade and, at about 1 metre down, found a blue poly pipe leading downwards to pass under the canal to the Wharf Cottage.

Big smiles all round and big thanks to Simon Walker!

Click on the icon below to find out more about the traditional skills of divining.