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Montgomery Canal Restoration Work Party Report - October 2012

October 06 & 07

What an extraordinary weekend! The ‘weekend’ actually started on Friday morning when four volunteers were confronted by the sight of a channel which in some places looked ready for navigation. The images give some idea of the quantity of water in the channel. There was a watercourse from bridge to bridge – if not navigable then certainly ‘canoeable’ in places – and four pumps were worked hard all day in an attempt to get rid of it. The water was all pumped into the culvert, and hence off site, using ditches and land drains as conduits. All there was to show for nine hours pumping on Friday was a lowered water level but little sign of the channel bottom. The pumping party returned before breakfast on Saturday to restart operations. By the normal work start time enough of the Redwith end was, if not exactly dry, then free of standing water. Shaping work was able to start almost immediately, a prospect that had seemed remote 24 hours before.

The lining gang set to work at the Pryces end to construct 5 m of lining which incorporated a dam. The aim of this was to prevent rainwater runoff from the lined section onto the shaped areas awaiting lining. Considerable effort went into the design of this structure and the picture shows Mike seeking inspiration from higher authority. In receipt of this inspiration the construction went ahead and the image shows the ‘Dam Builders’ moment of triumph. It is evident from the image that the dam was actually holding water!

On Sunday the shaping and lining operations swapped ends and a concentrated effort saw some 20 m at the Redwith end finished. Lining is now within 10 m of the end of the retaining wall where construction of another dam is planned. A further 20 m of channel bed was shaped ready for next month.

The digging gang set about the task of installing the final section of French drain in the bed of the channel, namely, that from the tip slope to the rear of the compound. This is to be constructed along the course of the remaining section of ditch which had hitherto served to drain the channel. This ditch is almost as deep as the proposed drain in places, particularly adjacent to the culvert. Thus the first task on Saturday was to fill in the ditch and compact the area as best we could with the digger. On Sunday the trench was dug in the day-old compacted material with the help of sheet piles laid to spread the machine’s weight, which allowed about 30 m of drain to be finished.

So in the end a very productive weekend, but one that looked distinctly touch and go at times. There was one final (literal) sting in the tail. As if frost, storms, monsoons and bad ground was not enough, nature had one last thing (but nobody is betting on that!) to throw at us. In mid afternoon on Saturday we were all suddenly attacked by a plague of small flies. It was almost like working in a snowstorm for half an hour or so, but they disappeared as suddenly as they arrived. Truly an extraordinary weekend!

 

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Looking towards Redwith from the culvert
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Redwith end
Friday
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Mike praying for wisdom from the dam expert
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Filling the ditch
Saturday
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Lining at Redwith
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The Dam Brigade
Sunday
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