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Montgomery Canal Restoration Work Party Report - April 2014

April 05 + 06

To describe the weekend’s efforts as ‘finishing off a few jobs’ might be true but conveys a misleading impression of the level of activity over four hectic days. In fact the work party turned out to be one of the hardest physically since the heady days of the block laying. A great deal was achieved aided by weather which was by no means as bad as some of the forecasts suggested.

The ‘weekend’ started on Thursday when three volunteers started the job of pumping out a month’s worth of rain from the channel. Three hired pumps, supplemented by the Society’s submersible pump, worked to drain the channel, this process being finally completed by Friday evening.

The main tasks over the actual weekend were grouting along the base of the retaining wall and the piling, some remedial work on the brickwork at Pryces Bridge and the construction of a small nature reserve.

The major task was to grout the junction between the lining and the piling on the towpath side and to cover this with a layer of mortar, and this work occupied the majority of the volunteers throughout the weekend. Two diesel mixers were in constant use on both days. On Saturday the work concentrated on filling the remaining length of block/pile joint with bentonite grout – some 200 metres – and this was followed on Sunday by capping nearly 300 metres of bentonite with mortar. This Herculean effort used two pallet loads of bentogrout and 10 tonnes of sand, and kept the two mixers and two power barrows very busy indeed.

The other main task of the weekend was preparation for the future. The provisional plan for the Society’s restoration activities after completion of the current length is a move to the Pryces Bridge to Crickheath section – subject to successful permissions from a number of organisations. This length is a nature reserve and contains a number of rare and protected species including Great Crested Newts. The basic principle of working in such locations is that any habitat lost must be replaced by an equivalent habitat elsewhere. The section where it is hoped to start work contains a small area of water which is a newt breeding area, and thus this needs to be replicated elsewhere prior to any work starting on the length. The work this weekend was to start to create a replacement newt habitat in the corner of the erstwhile tip area adjacent to the culvert, an area of no conventional agricultural value. A pond was excavated, but not filled, and the surrounding land enclosed by two hedges which were supplied as two year old plants already over a metre high.

After so many years during which there seemed no prospect of the end of the work, we now have one work party – three days – remaining before completion. The weather gods usually reserve some good weather for the May work party. Let us hope that the tradition continues!


Capping with mortar
Hedge planting
The newt pond site
Santa and his little helper attempt to unroll a hose. If only we had more experience of this kind of thing..
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