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Montgomery Canal Restoration Work Party Report - March 2014

March 01 + 02

The on-site preparations for the start of the 2014 restoration season began the last weekend in February with the task of removing the accumulated water from the channel. With the lining now complete, a second consecutive exceptionally wet winter had left the channel even fuller than a year ago. Last year we spent 2 full days pumping water out using hired equipment. This year we had more substantial equipment! The Shropshire Fire and Rescue Service had recognised that our problem was their excellent training opportunity. Using their High Volume Pump, a device capable of shifting up to 8,000 litres of water per minute, a team of 7 retained fire-fighters from Craven Arms pumped an estimated one and a half million litres of water under Redwith Bridge in about 4 hours. This saved us an enormous amount of time and effort and we are very grateful for their assistance.

As has become customary the March work party was a three-day event. Five Society volunteers were on site on Friday 28th February to further reduce the water level caused by a week’s rain as well as various other preparatory jobs. The remaining water was removed by about lunchtime on Saturday. Alas we only had hired 3 inch pumps to do the work – a far cry from the HVP and certainly not as spectacular!

The work at the weekend was all of a ‘finishing off’ nature. The main tasks were completing the levelling of the tip, rip-rap installation on the offside bank, grouting along the base of the piling and remedial pointing on the stone walls.

The 14 tonne excavator was on site throughout the weekend and made short work of the remaining pile of topsoil in the tip area. We must now stop calling it the ‘tip’ since it now has the appearance of being part of the adjacent field again. The 14 tonne machine also saw service on the placing of the rip-rap. Stone was loaded into a dumper using the Society’s digger, transported along the bank, tipped into the bucket of the 14 tonner, and hence placed directly on the bank. This speeded things up considerably by minimising the amount of manual handing of the stone that was necessary. In this way 150 metres of bank was stoned during the weekend leaving only twenty metres or so still to do below the mixing compound.

The grouting of the junction between the lining and the piling on the towpath side occupied about ten volunteers throughout the weekend. The work involved clearing the joint of weeds and rubbish and then using a benonite grout to trap the lining material against the pile surface. The benonite was then covered with a layer of mortar to protect it from the elements. In total 60m of this work was finished. Also on the towpath side two volunteers worked methodically along the batter wall making good any loose joints and pointing with lime mortar.

So, a weekend of steady progress toward completion and, most importantly, a weekend of some truly excellent cakes. We hope for more of the same in both departments next time.

 

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The Heavy Pummping Unit truck
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The outfall at Redwith
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Tipping stone into the digger bucket ..
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then placing it on the bank
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Making good on the wash wall
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Pouring bentonite grout
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