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Montgomery Canal Restoration Work Party Report - March 2009

March 7 & 8

 

We arrived first thing on the Saturday morning, full of enthusiasm after the winter break from wall building, to a busy yard at the Redwith site. Various equipment and a whole host of different materials for the weekend's work were being delivered, reminding us all of the amount of pre-planning required by Mike and some other members of the team to ensure a productive work party. Whilst helping with the deliveries and opening up the site, it was good to catch up with everyone, welcome some new volunteers and talk about our plans for the year ahead at Redwith. It was a very well attended weekend, with a record 28 volunteers on the Saturday and 30 on the Sunday.

Having finished the wall to halfway between Redwith and Pryces Bridges at the end of 2008, the plan for 2009 is to now start building back from Pryces Bridge. This work is a long way from the yard and requires significant logistical planning and managing, not least making sure that everyone knows it is tea break! The first job was to move a mountain of stone from the yard and position small piles all the way back to the half way point. Two dumpers worked virtually the whole weekend to get this done and by early Sunday afternoon this had been achieved. Once the first few loads were delivered, the Pryces Bridge team began the new half of the wall, and despite the rain on Saturday afternoon and most of Sunday, achieved a good start.

Unfortunately, following an inspection of the already completed work, some of the stone work on the batter wall needs to be re-laid due to the heavy frosts over the winter affecting the lime mortar, a problem that the original canal builders must also have suffered from. The volunteers are made of stern stuff, so although demoralising to have to re-do work, it was attacked with the same enthusiasm as the new build.

Meanwhile at the Redwith end, work continues on the offside retaining wall with the laying of a further bay of blocks, including the filling of the columns for added strength, as you can imagine, a very messy job in the rain. Once the new, very long water pipe had been run in and connected, the mixing gang braved the rain and wind chill up by the yard to keep everyone supplied with the various lime and cement based mixes.

The Gazebo used by everyone for tea breaks and lunch had finally given up at the end of 2008, so a new shelter has been erected out of wood. The temporary tarpaulin covers held up well (the wind still hasn't died down since we started putting it on Saturday morning!) and the added luxury of a shelf for cups went down very well. The challenge is to find a more durable permanent cover before the next work party at minimal or no cost. Offers very welcome! A container, donated by British Waterways, is being fitted out for welfare, first aid and tool storage. This will considerably improve volunteer facilities.

Hopefully our usual luck with the weather will be back next month and we look forward to continuing apace with the work.

 

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The stone loaders Mags and Karen get to grips with the re-work
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It's a long way to tip what they need The first stones laid at Pryces Bridge
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Gordon Ramsey (aka Glyn) is happy with his mix! Lunch in the new shelter
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