The headline news this month is that half the length of the Phase 1 channel between Pryces Bridge and the clay dam is now lined and blocked. This combined with the start of the installation of rip-rap on the top of the banks meant that there was a real sense of volunteer achievement over the three days. It was again a very hot three days – unpleasantly so – with the consequent overheating of machines and volunteers. It was the now familiar story this year of frequent breaks and lots of drinking water, with the tea shelter pressed into service as a parasol rather than its more usual umbrella duties.
Friday brought its usual collection of problems but luckily as things panned out this did not affect progress. The most serious problem was the non-delivery of two loads of blocks but we did get a load of rip-rap stone. The recently issued final design for the top of the banks entailed the replacement of several courses of blocks by stone. The offending blocks on the forty metres or so already completed were removed and reused on the new work. Also a load of blocks removed by the contractors from Crickheath and destined for storage at Redwith was hijacked and diverted to us.
The main tasks on all three days were final shaping of the channel rapidly followed by lining/blocking. On the face of it the shaping gang ought to be grateful for the continuing dry weather. However because the nature of the task involves using excavated material from one part of the channel as fill elsewhere the state of the spoil is important.
Bitter experience over the last few work parties has shown that it is mighty difficult to build up a bank on a Friday using what is effectively dust, and then hope to accurately shape that bank on a Saturday. A variety of tricks were tried -consolidating the fill by bashing it with the excavator bucket, watering it, stabilising with cement – but none greatly speeded up the work. However progress there was, and by end of the weekend final shaping reached a point 105m from Pryces Bridge.
Additionally all of the areas of bank requiring additional fill are now finished. For the lining gang the conditions, the heat apart, were ideal, and 32m of channel were finished over the weekend. One thing that was apparent over the weekend was that the lining/blocking process was quicker than shaping. It may be that the latter will speed up now that all of the remaining bank has been rough-shaped by the addition of extra fill.
Elsewhere, the contractors are hard at work at Crickheath. The site strip is finished, trees, blocks etc. removed, and work on the site compound has started.