Thursday, June 14, 2018

All Quiet at the Western Depot

by: Buffs

The summer holiday rush has had quite an effect on Western Depot this week. The passing of the summer term break has seen many of our regulars disappear off for some quiet time away from the routine.

Monday started slowly with less than half a sheet filled with names by 09:00. Jobs were allocated: one group to Skew Bridge to start the repair of the towpath fence under the bypass, another to collect a picnic bench with a broken leg and work on Patricia going on. More names appeared on the sheet and work on the old Mess resumed.

But still the yard was un-naturally quiet. The syncopated cacophony of grinders, other power tools and hammers was replaced by the silent swish of paint brushes.  Patricia’s digger parts and her leg irons were flowering into the bright yellow of JCB under gentle caress of Jill’s paint brush. The rest of the yard was garlanded with muted red checker plates from Patricia’s decks slowly turning a dusty rose pink under the first coat of grey anti-slip paint at Leonie’s hand.

Stuart, the first of our depot produced work boats, now back in the yard to be finished was being stripped of her gunwale timbers in preparation for repainting and the fitting of the dragon’s teeth. The dragon’s teeth form the lashing points for the green weather cover seen on her sister Jasper and are welded to the hull. There will be other welding to do on this boat to bring her up to the same standard as Jasper.

With sun rising ever higher the picnic table with one of its legs splintered into two and showing signs of many years of service to the user of the towpath was brought back and gently laid at rest in the wood yard. This was soon followed by the broken fence timbers from the Skew Bridge. The cunning plan to dig out the rotten timber from the concrete thwarted by the way it was fitted. A different solution is required.

Lunch was taken in just one sitting.

The dragon’s teeth were being cut on the reciprocating saw. There are 42 to be cut. The metronomic beat of the saw as it worked through the steel became the accompaniment to a slow, hot summer’s afternoon. Leonie applied the second coat of anti slip to the deck plates which matured from rose pink to a soft glowing grey.

And as the afternoon cooled the tranquillity was cut by the roar of a newly cleaned and maintained trimmer being brought back to life ready for more work on the canal.


Reflecting on the day the signing in sheet was almost full, many of Reg’s tasks had been completed, Patricia is becoming more colourful and some long outstanding little jobs had been finished. Almost a cue for Dvorak’s Symphony No. 9.