April 2023 Crickheath South work party report

April 14-16

The April work party focussed on Phase 1A (Crickheath Wharf area) and was characterised by new tasks, high volunteer numbers and great progress.

Work on repairs to the former tramway wharf south of Crickheath Bridge has started. After much planning, coping stones – some weighing over half a tonne – were lifted off to allow repairs to the wall beneath. Whilst it was anticipated that this could take the whole three days, by Friday evening, the task was largely complete. Members of the Dry Stone Walling Association (DSWA) joined the work party and by the end of Saturday, over 8m of wall had been repaired and copings replaced – well ahead of expectations. There remains 83m of wall to repair and DSWA members will continue to join work parties for the coming months to complete the job, ably supported by Society volunteers.

Wallers at work
Job done, copings replaced

On the towpath side to the south of Crickheath Bridge, the wash wall also requires repair. This will be done using lime mortar. In readiness, a meticulous job of cleaning the existing stone wall and joints was completed.

Wash wall preparation

Whilst Phase 1A has previously been cleared of scrub, there remained many stumps. These ranged from the remains of small saplings, mainly on the towpath side, to two enormous alder stumps growing out of the wharf wall. In fact ‘monster’ would be a better description of the largest. However, after much preparatory work the previous day, even this was removed by Sunday morning and dragged out of the way. The inevitable large void was treated with grout to provide a firm foundation for rebuilding the stone wall in this area.

Stump rolling

With various other ‘housekeeping’ jobs being completed in compounds north and south of the bridge, this completed a highly productive work party.

Finally, a further record of appreciation is given here to Oswestry Rural Parish Council which has provided a grant for towpath improvements in Phase 1A. The damp weather during the week proved just how valuable this will be since the towpath was muddy and slippery. Work will start on these improvements at the next work party.

Posted in Montgomery Canal, Restoration, Shropshire Union Canal Society, Work Party.

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