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Montgomery Canal Restoration Work Party Report - May 2014

May 03 - 05


We did it....... the Redwith to Pryces Bridge section is finished! A three day Bank Holiday Weekend of sometimes frantic activity saw the remaining outstanding jobs completed. In the grand tradition of the May Bank Holiday work parties the weather was dry throughout the event which greatly helped proceedings.

Work kicked off on Friday as usual when four volunteers pumped out a month’s worth of ‘rain’ from the channel.  As always there seemed to be more water than would be accounted for by the accumulated rainfall but, satisfyingly, the mystery of the source of this was solved later in the weekend.

Most of the first day was occupied finishing the task of covering the grout at the junction between the lining and the piling on the towpath side with a layer of mortar. Also on the towpath side the small gap which had opened up in some places between the piling and its concrete backing was filled with liquid bentonite to act as a seal. This was a particularly labour intensive job involving mixers, electric stirrers, power barrows and a variety of jugs, cans and other pouring devices. The result was satisfactory but, judging by their appearance, more bentonite seemed to end up on volunteers clothing than inside the piling!

Both bridges on the length received attention. The remedial work at Pryces Bridge consisted of replacement of spalled or missing bricks, and repointing in a number of places, including the underside of the bridge arch. At the other end of the site a fender was fitted just below the eventual waterline on the offside at the approach to Redwith Bridge. The fenders, some very substantial lengths of green oak, were resin bolted into the retaining wall and should be more than capable of protecting the stonework from glancing blows by passing boats. It is a real pleasure after all the years of effort to be able to write about boats in the context of this section!

By Sunday lunchtime all of the jobs requiring access to the channel by the power barrows were finished and the final major job of profiling and lining the temporary access slope started. When the base of the channel was cleared prior to lining, the source of the water entering the channel became apparent – our old friend the land drain! On the Monday morning we were greeted by the sight of a dry channel - the mystery of where the water was coming from was solved. The rest of the blocks in the section were rapidly laid using the block chute but before it was finished off by addition of the rip-rap stone there was a ceremony. A golden block (well, actually a block painted yellow) was laid by Pat Wilson, now in her third term as Society Chair. The whole area was topped off by the erection of the society banner at the top of the slope.

So as the old advertising slogan goes – just add water. This is likely to be let into the section at the Redwith stop planks in the next couple of weeks after the removal of the adjacent clay dam, and prior to the June work party. The latter promises to be a memorable occasion and there is a ‘do’ on the Saturday evening for all of the volunteers who have worked on the section. Those with any energy left on the Sunday morning will immediately start on the preliminary work on the next section from Pryces Bridge to Crickheath.

 

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The last blockwork
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Repointing Pryces
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Pat and the last block
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Captain Calamity 'irrigates' the new section of hedge.
The hedge survived.

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Apparently there was a reason for this. Best not ask.
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Completed channel snaking towards Pryces
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