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Montgomery Canal Restoration Work Party Reports - 2004


March 13 & 14

We were pleased to have 20 volunteers present on Saturday. Although we had originally planned to start work on the by-weir, British Waterways had other ideas and the only work they had scheduled was to remove the hedge between the site and the roadway. With such a good number of volunteers this only took about 10 minutes and so it was decided to carry out our original plan. The weir was cleared of all the vegetation which had appeared since we were last working on site and then we were able to make use of the plentiful supply of labour to form a chain to get the loose bricks out of the weir and stacked clear of the lock.

Other work carried out included raking the joints of the brickwork in the mouth of the lock and clearing the timbers from the field behind the lock where we had built a base for our containers last year but which had proved impractical because the electricity company would not cooperate by moving power cables. Advantage was also taken of the lowering of the water level in the canal to dig out below the canal bed to inspect the base of the retaining walls above the lock. On Sunday, time was taken for British Waterways to update the volunteers on Health and Safety procedures.

Volunteers will still be needed at future work parties because of the tight schedule if the lock is to be completed to the timetable required for the HLF grant to be obtained and, in addition, we expect to get the go ahead very soon for the slipway which we are to build at Brynderwen.


3rd & 4th April

British Waterways had provided a list of works to be carried out and had also done the necessary method statements and risk assessments as required by the Health & Safety Acts.


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1/2/3rd May

This enthusiastic work party saw real progress in our work on the lock as we finally started to build rather than to knock down! Six volunteers spent most of Saturday pointing the nearside approach wall at the top of the lock where the joints had been thoroughly raked out by the April work party and the work was finished off to a high standard by one of our group who is an expert pointer. Others finished removing a 2 metre section of the offside retaining wall above the bywash weir, pressure washing the void and then rebuilding the wall. This is being done in sections as the top courses of the wall are in very good condition and can be left in-situ but the brickwork below the waterline has lost its mortar and is held in place with clay and gravity.

The volunteers were greatly encouraged by Roger Birch who is standing in as team leader on the Montgomery in the absence of the regular man, Wyn, who is off for some months due to illness. He spent the whole of Saturday at the lock fixing access walkways and giving advice on both safety matters and also on the work being done. He has now provided access to the nearside retaining wall below the lock which is also in need of urgent attention and will need a combination of repointing and rebuilding.

There is still plenty of work to do and the level of co-operation from British Waterways has improved considerably so please come and join us at out future workparties.


Work to underpin the offside retaining wall above the bypass weir
Work to repoint the nearside approach to the top of the lock

The dismantling of the nearside retaining wall below the lock


5th & 6th June

The June work party at Newhouse Lock had a successful weekend with 12 volunteers present. At the request of British Waterways a towpath diversion was created as it is planned to use machinery on the towpath at the lock side during the coming weeks. Part of the adjoining field was fenced off and the hedge cut down to allow access to the field for the diversion. Work continued to dismantle loose sections of the retaining wall below the lock and remove tree stumps from the masonry. Work also continued on the retaining wall above the lock to remove loose brickwork and replace it.


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Removing loose sections of the retaining wall below the lock
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The new towpath diversion, we hope that it gets used
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Loose brickwork removed from another section of the retaining wall above the lock.
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Clearing vegetation from the temporarily dismantled spill weir
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Making a gap in the hedge to allow access to the towpath diversion
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Admiring the new brickwork in place as the wall is rebuilt.

I wonder if Richard did any work or just snapped?


3rd & 4th July
31st July & 1st August

Both weekends were well attended. British Waterways also started to work on the lock as contractors to the Society in June and made rapid progress in dismantling the offside lock wall which was in danger of collapse. They have now started to build reinforced concrete columns to support the bank behind the wall as can be seen in the pictures.

Our volunteers have continued the work on the retaining walls above and below the lock. This work was restricted at the first of the July weekends because the water level had not been lowered sufficiently for us to get access and we had to be content with replacing the top two courses of the wall.

The second weekend saw good progress with the wall despite a sudden flood when the hydraulic pump keeping the water level low suddenly decided to stop working. Fortunately the British Waterways foreman was on site and quickly organized repairs. Two of the lower sections of the wall were removed and replaced and it is anticipated that this part of the work will be completed at the next attempt.

The retaining wall below the lock has been almost entirely dismantled and on the second July weekend progress was made on the rebuilding. This is a more challenging enterprise as the wall is built of quite large stones rather than bricks and these require careful handling to avoid injury to the volunteers.


The inside of the lock with the offside wall dismantled!
Shows the same view with the shuttering in place
for the reinforced concrete columns.

Our volunteers starting to rebuild the stone retaining wall below the lock


4th & 5th September

Due to no supervisor being available for the September Newhouse work party, members of the group transferred their efforts to Llanymynech under the direction of Stephen Lees to help in the clearance of vegetation from the wharf.



We had a good turnout for the October work party and were very pleased to welcome four new volunteers.


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Looking at future work on the lock wall
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The new lock wall with concrete backfill

They were especially welcome on this occasion as we were anxious to get the work of rebuilding the retaining wall south of the lock completed. British Waterways could not guarantee to have the water level lowered enough to work on this wall after this weekend because of the availability of the pumps being used. For the same reason we also had to get the walls of the mouth of the lock repointed.

On Saturday morning it looked for a time as though we would be frustrated by the weather as the pouring rain made it impossible to do any bricklaying. Fortunately we had a supply of waterproof sheets on site and were able to rig sufficient cover for the work to continue in spite of the weather.


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Roger Birch explaining the work carried out by B.W.
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The new west wall (offside) of the lock

In addition to these two jobs other volunteers continued with the rebuilding of the stone retaining wall below the lock which also had to be back filled with concrete to ensure stability.

The weekend turned out to be very successful with the first two jobs completed and good progress made with the third which will be continued by the November work party.


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The culvert with its plastic liner.
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David and Sandy bricking the southern retaining wall.

In addition to our work, British Waterways have now completed the brickwork of the offside wall of the lock, which now just awaits its coping stones and they have also fitted a plastic liner to the bypass culvert to overcome leakage from its defective brickwork. On Saturday the volunteers were given a guided inspection of the inside of the lock with its new wall by Roger Birch, the BW team leader for the Montgomery Canal, who has been on site with us to offer valuable assistance and advice.


6th & 7th November.

There was a good turnout of volunteers for the weekend and good progress was made with the work. We are now ahead of our schedule as during the weekend the retaining wall above the lock was finally completed to its full height. The rebuilding of the stone retaining wall below the lock also showed remarkable progress with several metres of the wall having been finished.

Much of the new work has also been back filled with concrete as required by the B.W. specification. If work on the remainder of this wall continues next year at the same pace it should be completed well inside the allotted timescale.

British Waterways have now finished rebuilding the offside lock wall, and have made a splendid job of it. Work to the bridge is not now thought to be as extensive as was originally expected as the unstable western abutment has been stabilised during work to line the bypass culvert.


Colin Venus laying the bricks of the final three
courses of the southern retaining wall.
Rebuilding of the stone retaining wall. By Sunday evening
this was completed from the dam to the bush in the foreground.


The bad news is that the towpath lock wall is now expected to need more work than originally thought as the bricks at the base are very loose.

However, all in all we are very pleased with the project which has come along this year far better than we ever expected. This is due in no small measure to the excellent co-operation which we are now getting from B.W. and especially from Roger Birch, the team leader on the Montgomery, who puts in hours of his own time to assist us.

A view into the lock from below. The newly rebuilt offside wall can be clearly seen through the bridge arch.


Next Year

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