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Wrgie Weekend – behind the scenes

A behind the scenes report on the weekend of the wrgies

One hundred and ten volunteer members of the Waterway Recovery Group descended on Stroud over the weekend of 8/9/10 of November.

The people in red

Red vans, red T-shirts and red hard hats were to be seen all along the towpath of the Stroudwater and Thames & Severn Canal throughout the weekend.

Impressive task list

The reasons for this influx of labour and expertise were many and varied.

The tasks ranged from dealing with the ever troublesome buddleia growth in various brick structures, clearing rubble from the bottom of Griffins Mill Lock together with some landscaping and placement of coping stones, clearing vegetation from the chamber of Bourne Mill Lock, clearing fallen trees from the canal bed at Bowbridge and Goughs Orchard Lock.

Early interview for chairman

BBC Radio Gloucestershire’s Anna Pykett was up & around very early on Saturday to catch an interview with WRG Chairman Mike Palmer.

The interview went out live via the satellite dish equipped mobile broadcasting van at 07:05am. Mike’s day job skills as a BBC broadcasting research technician were not actually called upon! Mike is pictured above mid interview outside The Ship Inn at Brimscombe at 07:05am on Saturday. It was a chilly morning but Mike is a hardy fellow and gave his interview in the wrgie trademark red T-shirt.

Feeding the teams

Whilst this interview was going on Mike’s wife Jude Palmer, pictured right, was busy cooking the first of 200 hundred rashers of bacon for some impressive breakfasts designed to fuel teams for the day’s labouring activities.

Jude later gave a few details of the shopping list needed to feed the voracious volunteers. 11 kilos of lamb, 200 hundred sausages, and… 13 kilos of pumpkins!
Jude was keen to explain that the wrgies support local businesses wherever they go. We use a butcher in Stonehouse for the meat.

“Having said that, she smiled, “the pumpkins were left over from our local harvest festival celebrations. We created a very good lamb & pumpkin curry which went down well.”

Local business support

Other local support came in the shape of 20 trestle tables used to create a workers canteen in the disused warehouse at Brimscombe. These were kindly loaned by Attwoolls of Whitminster.

The queue forms for breakfast

Tables supplied by Attwoolls of Whitminster

How does it all happen?

Stroud District Council Volunteers Co-ordinator Jon Pontefract explains,

“The Waterway Recovery Group, known in the waterways restoration world as ‘The wrgies’, have supported the restoration of the Cotswold Canals for many years.

"Their teams have been a regular feature of work at Griffins Mill Lock during the summer. They work closely with the Cotswold Canals Trust own team of volunteers.

"This week was no exception as Cotswold Canals Trust members Alan Jones, Steve Hake and Steve Pickover were on hand to assist in the a range of jobs that needed to be done before any harsh weather sets in. They all worked well together and we hope to see the wrgies back again soon."

Planning for the future

The work camps the wrgies attend all over the country require a great deal of planning.

The wrgies were busy in this respect after their curry on Saturday evening.

Leader availability, staffing levels and the 2014 work camps were the subjects covered at a planning meeting before the wrgies went on to enjoy some more local produce… one or two local ales. 

Click here or on the icon below to find out more about The Waterway Recovery Group.