IN VIEW of the confusing reports in narrowboatworld concerning volunteer lock keepers, such a volunteer, Bill Gill, explains:
I am a volunteer at the Napton flight. (Pictured.) We cover the whole of the flight, including the pair of locks at Marston Doles. If the two volunteers were at the bottom two locks it was possibly because that was where they were most useful. This morning, as I started at the bottom (a good place to start as that is where I had parked my car) and I saw some American visitors in the bottom lock, who were very unsure of what to do to operate the locks.
Not been shown
They were on a hire boat, had not been on a canal before and had not been shown how to operate a lock. I went up the entire flight with them, for which they seemed very grateful. Half way up, we met my fellow volunteer who was walking down from Marston Doles. (The picture shows Lock 12 on Napton Flight at Marston Doles.)
I continued up the flight and he walked down in order to get his car to drive to the top of the flight to give me a lift back to the bottom, where we then had a cup of tea and I had a change of clothes. Had Mr Guiver passed then he might have written that the volunteers sit around all day, drinking tea in their office.
I also acted as a volunteer at the Crick Show, taking a boat. On the way, I met fellow volunteers on the Watford Flight and on the Braunston Flight. All seemed very happy with job.
We are volunteers, if we are not happy we do not have to do the job. As volunteers we can also decide where we wish to serve. Perhaps we do not want to serve at Bascote, where the gates and winding gear require more strength than those on the Oxford Canal.
Toilets are a necessity. If Mr Guiver had seen a volunteer using the hedge, I am sure that he would have been quick to complain. Has he ever worked in an office without basic welfare facilities?