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Restoration & Hedge-laying Work Party Report - March 2010

March 6 & 7


The weekend got off to an early start for four lucky volunteers, who spent the Thursday and Friday undertaking tracked dumper training. All the recruits passed their theory and practical tests and left clutching their new licenses.

Work on the canal progressed in four main areas. The final hedge-laying of the season nearly saw the whole length completed. Only a small section remains to be completed next winter.

Near Pryces bridge the final two huge, reluctant tree stumps were removed with the careful attention of the digger, and the gentle application of saw and axe. These stumps were burned near the mid-point of the length, along with the final stumps from previous months' clearance. With the bulk of the channel clearance having started in October, six months of hard work have nearly yielded an obstruction-free channel.

At Pryces bridge the technical gang worked on pumping last months excavations clear of thousands of litres of water and mud, using the Society's newly acquired pump. Once clear of most of the water, the digger moved in to begin scraping the mud away, down to a level where concrete will be poured to form the canal bed under the bridge. Also needed was a 600 mm wide deep trench under the bridge, a job that was too restrictive for the digger, and therefore had to be dug the old-fashioned way. This concrete bed will also provide additional strength to the bridge, as this bridge was built without an invert, and seemingly no foundations to the wing walls. The precision of the digger drivers deserves credit, as operating under the limited confines of the bridge gives less than an inch of clearance all round. Some of the newly-qualified dumper drivers got to show off their skills, removing the spoil to the hole adjacent to the culvert. Because the offside bank will need to be built up here with thousands of tons of spoil, a new access track was created to speed the dumpers' progress.

Because the channel will be inaccessible to heavy machinery once it has been shaped, the towpath needs to be surfaced before shaping occurs. A delivery of 16 tons of gravel needs to moved from a dumper in the channel on to the towpath, using nothing more high-tech than shovels. By the end of the weekend about four tons had been moved, with about 40 metres of towpath surfaced from Pryces bridge.

Finally, an extension was added to the shelter used for lunch breaks. A year ago when the shelter was built, all the volunteers could comfortably fit in it. With the ever-increasing numbers of volunteers donating their time to the restoration the need for bigger facilities became inevitable. How long before the next extension is needed?


march2010restworkparty1 march2010restworkparty2
Trench-digging by hand Precision excavation by digger
Towpath surfacing
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