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Montgomery Canal Restoration Work Parties Report - May 2013

WP1, May 03 - 06

The third ‘shaping-only’ work party made steady progress over the Bank Holiday weekend with the main action at the Redwith end of the site. Volunteers were on site for four days and the weather once more proved co-operative, with dry conditions throughout the weekend apart from a little drizzle to dampen the early starters on Saturday.

The obligatory Friday pumping session turned out to be a short-lived affair. Two pumps disposed of the groundwater in the land drain before lunch. This is quite a contrast to February when the same section took two and a half days to clear. The arrival of the hired 3 tonne digger permitted shaping work on the towpath side adjacent to the compound to start and about 30 metres was completed.

Saturday brought the arrival of a dumper and the commencement of shaping at the Redwith end, a task which included the removal of the compound access slope. Things were moving along nicely when the dumper shed a track in the tip area. After much deliberation, and consulting an expert, the track was eventually put back on, but at the cost of nearly six hours production time. The offending track also came off again on the last day but, practice making perfect, we had it on again in an hour or so. Over the four days we got about 25 metres at the Redwith end shaped and ready for lining. We were expecting to find a quantity of rubble in the bank next to the compound and we were not disappointed. In all four large dumper loads of rubble came out of the bank and this all had to be sorted by hand and removed for eventual disposal off site.

Some of the spoil was used to make up the level at the top of the compound slope to that of the rest of the compound. This area is now suitable for placing blocks prior to their delivery to the channel directly by the chutes next work party. Also in preparation for next time, the areas due for lining have been marked out. Lastly we had an enormous bonfire in the tip area to dispose of assorted tree roots and general rubbish which has emerged from the channel excavations over the last year or so.

So, much was achieved over the weekend. All of the offside bank is now shaped and there is now less than 130 metres of channel bottom awaiting final shaping. And, perhaps the most impressive achievement of the lot, we now know how to re-shoe a dumper!


Bear Grylls' maternal grandfather, Bear Zarzz, displays his latest erection
Towpath slope shaping
Removing the remains of the bottom of the compound ramp
Looking south-west from the end of the retaining wall


WP2, May 18 + 19

This was the Work Party in which we entered the home straight! It is now possible to stand on profiled channel at the Redwith end and see the lined section at the Pryces end. The ‘straight’ in question is the 94 metres from the tip ramp towards the Redwith end, the bulk of which is now shaped but for base removal.

As is the norm this year the main item on Friday was a pumping session. This was a more lengthy operation than we have been accustomed to of late in order to dispose of the considerable amount of rain water which had fallen in the last week.  Once this was achieved some channel shaping and setting out was possible. We also took delivery of 5000 blocks.

Saturday saw a major landmark achieved with the remaining 21 m of channel lined at the Pryces Bridge end of the site.  All 175 metres of channel from Pryces Bridge to the tip ramp is now lined and the image shows the last few blocks being placed. To the Redwith side of the tip ramp another 30 m of slope on the towpath side was shaped together with 10 m of channel bottom.

On Sunday the lining operation moved back to the head of blocks at the other end of site, 92 m from Redwith Bridge. 25 m was lined but blocks were placed only in the channel base and on lower part of the offside slope. The reasoning behind this should become apparent next month. Unfortunately it clouds the issue of whether we have set a new lining record for the third month running!
The area is directly below the compound so the only block movement required was straight down the bank. This meant that the shaping operation had the use of a dumper all day. A further 20 m of channel base was shaped down to final level, reaching the 150 m mark from Redwith before the excavator suffered a failed hydraulic hose.

Sunday lunchtime brought a little light relief in the form of an award for our Montgomery Canal Project Officer. Mike was presented with the IWA Tetlow Cup for services to canal restoration by Alan Platt of the IWA. Word had got round and a number of people arrived especially. The sun shone and the cakes were supplemented by celebratory sausage rolls! A report appears on Page 11 of July's Towpath Talk.

The shaping and lining operations this year have gone very well so far but a word of caution is perhaps in order. It should be remembered that there remains a considerable amount of work to be done after the conclusion of lining operations, including some very labour intensive work such as placing rip-rap and grouting. We may be in the home straight but there is still some way to go to the line!


Lining underway at the Pryces end ..
.. and the last blocks of the 175 m going down
Sunday Lunch
Lining below the compound
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