The first full restoration work party of the year took place at the Weston Arm picnic site on the weekend of 11/12th April. Although the work party saw the majority of the restoration volunteers in action through the weekend, the work done could more accurately be described as enhancement rather than restoration. The venue, and the nature of the work, was because the continuing delay to the issue of a newts licence preventing the start of work on the Pryces to Crickheath section.
The work at Weston Arm was timely since it is the finishing point of the Montgomery Triathlon on 9th May. The publicity generated by the event meant that images of the site will almost inevitably appear in the media, so presenting the site in the best light possible was important.
The Weston Arm picnic area was originally set up by the Society some years ago as the nameplates on the benches attest. The work involved repair and renovation of the benches and their surrounds, towpath, water points , car park and waste disposal area.
The Friday advance party busied themselves collecting a large number of tools from the Lloyd’s base and supervising deliveries of plant and materials. The latter had been provided directly by CRT who also supplied what must be the largest welfare cabin in the Society’s history. This could seat twelve volunteers and was equipped with such unimaginable luxuries as a microwave!
The work on the towpath, car park and waste disposal area involved removal of vegetation and surfacing with compacted stone. A three tonne excavator and two power barrows moved the forty-odd tonnes of stone around the site. The material was spread by hand by the volunteers and a compactor plate ensured a smooth finish. Two new sections of path giving wheelchair access to picnic tables were added. Work on the picnic furniture involved replacement of a small number of pieces of timber and application of wood preservative. The result was six picnic benches which look as good as new! The area around the benches was covered in wood chippings which were actually produced from brash from our winter hedge laying site at Ardleen. Finally the brick-built enclosures for the two water points were rebuilt.
One notable aspect of the work at Weston Arm was the sight of the large number of boats travelling on the canal. This is, of course, something of a novelty for a group whose idea of a canal is a dry channel. However the idea that these boats will one day be able to travel to Crickheath does act as a spur to our restoration efforts.