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Montgomery Canal Restoration Work Party Report - June 2009

June 6 & 7

 

The two weeks prior to the work party had given us fantastic heat and sunshine, but come the weekend, the weather turned dismal. This turned some areas of the site into a quagmire, meant that shelters had to be erected for some of the working areas, and ensured that waterproofs were thoroughly tested. Despite this there was a very good turnout of volunteers (21 Saturday and 23 Sunday), and the usual supply of hot drinks and cake ensured that while progress may have been slowed, enthusiasm wasn't damped. The wet conditions also meant that lime mortar wouldn't set, so work on the batter wall moved instead to completing wall construction at Pryces Bridge, which are built with "normal" mortar.

Earlier excavations had shown that on the offside, the wing wall was originally curved right back, but that later repairs had replaced this with a straight wall. As the straight wall wouldn't satisfy today's requirements, the wall is being rebuilt along the original curved line. Two volunteers completed this to just below the waterline level in blue engineering brick, cutting and laying over 300 bricks, despite the fact that their work area had to be baled out regularly to prevent them sinking! This wall will be topped in reclaimed bricks to match the existing wall and Bull-nosed bricks as a coping, then filled behind with concrete.

On the towpath side, a retaining wall similar to those at Redwith bridge is being constructed. This will be of similar construction to that at Redwith Bridge - blockwork bases below the waterline filled in with concrete, then topped with stone which will show above the waterline. After a concrete base had been laid on the prior Thursday, the blockwork was laid over the weekend, ready for infilling with concrete. The blocks look similar to breeze blocks, but are much heavier, meaning that the more courses of blocks you lay, not only do your arms get more tired, but you also have to lift the blocks higher. Again, the entire wall was laid by only two volunteers over the weekend.

At the Redwith Bridge end preparation work started for the additional bays of the offside retaining wall. After last month's large-scale excavation, more precise groundworks started digging out for the bases of the new bays, including a deep trench, which reveals just how large these retaining walls really are - it's just that you can't see much of it when it's completed! The spoil from these excavations is being used to build up the offside of the canal adjacent to the culvert.

Along the rest of the site, the new welfare facilities were put into use, and the old welfare facility was prepared for removal. The new facilities also give more storage, allowing more tools and materials to be securely stored. This meant that all the tools the society has on site needed to be moved and resorted. This may be a volunteer effort, but the number and variety of tools on site mean that reorganising them is no mean feat.

The previous month had seen the batter wall construction completed 45 metres from Pryces Bridge. Time was spent finishing the lime mortar, removing any excess, and also removing left-over stone from this section, so now at least this part of the site looks complete and no longer like a building site.

Once the bridge walls at Pryces Bridge are complete, if weather allows the batter wall at that end to be completed, then work will be able to commence on profiling the channel, and completing the (huge) retaining wall at Redwith Bridge. Our illustrious leader then informs us that all we need to do then is lay around 300 tonnes of sand and 3500 tonnes of stone.

 

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Rain and mud did not stop progress Digging the foundations for more of the retaining wall at Redwith Bridge
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Blockwork retaining wall Final touches to completed parts of the wash wall
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Restoring the curved wing wall The power barrows are always busy
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