Montgomery Canal Restoration Work Party Report - April 2007
April 7 - 9
What a difference a month makes! Last month we had monsoon conditions on the Sunday of the work party; this month was warm and sunny, birds were singing and a buzzard circled above keeping an eye on proceedings.
The April work party was a three-day event, being over the Easter weekend, although one member of the group was confused about which was the third day! A final attempt was made to burn the large tree stumps and this was helped by the delivery of a lorry load of used pallets. These were sorted, undamaged ones were then used to store sorted stone for rebuilding the wharf wall, broken ones helped to relight the tree stumps.
A trial section of the old wharf was rebuilt using lime mortar - this was found to be easy to use, once mixed; although the pointing and brushing stage took longer than normal and the wall needed covering with an awning to shade it from the sun! A start was made on pulling down the rest of the old wall that was unsafe. Stone was sorted by height onto pallets placed on the canal bed; this was just possible since the water level had receded somewhat in the last month. Big Arthur was used to level the site first and to remove any remaining tree roots. The skills learned by the drivers at the A.P. Webb training school were put into use as one of Big Arthur's tracks began to sink below the mud. A tea break was called and time taken to evaluate the situation - then the bucket was used to lever the digger forward onto firmer ground. Big Arthur was also employed to lift a huge stone into place on the rebuilt wall - having Big Arthur will be invaluable in future months since there are several stones that are too heavy to lift manually.
A new layer of management, equipped with clipboard and computer, spun out the job of pegging out the water level and boundary of the water's edge until the last afternoon. They did, finally, join those who were already a little dirty from preparing foundations for visitor moorings. Big Arthur was also employed here and will be used next month when piling and back filling with concrete begins.
The site office/hospitality trailer now has piped running water, and electricity to light the storage containers, to run computers and last but not least to heat up the water for tea breaks!
Considerable effort has been made to tidy up the whole site, to re-organise the compound and with the marking out and a start being made on the 'heritage' wall we now feel poised and eager to start the re-building in earnest. There were about 20 volunteers for each of the three days, on the last day we were honoured by the presence of senior figures from S.U.C.S.' Council who attempted to get the compressor running. If you are tempted to join the fun of a work party and wish to find out more, contact Mike Friend - you will be made most welcome. No previous knowledge of restoration work is required.
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