August 2023 work party report

August 4-6

Wet Wet Wet! Possibly a slight exaggeration since we missed the very worst of Storm Antoni, though for those hardy volunteers present on Saturday a completely accurate description. But true to form, much progress was made.

Montgomery Waterway Restoration Trust has received a grant from National Grid for environmental improvements to the Montgomery Canal at Crickheath which Society volunteers are delivering. The works comprise 320m of towpath reconstruction in Phase 1B followed by hedging and tree planting in the autumn. This work party saw the start of towpath works and a total of 55m was completed by Sunday.

Towpath works in the wet

Following CRT approval of the trail dam construction last work party, two clay dams across the channel were completed and a further two will be constructed next work party. These are required to section off areas of the channel which will be water tested in October. Although temporary, these are substantial structures finished to a high degree of craftsmanship as the pictures illustrate.

Phase 1A dam
Phase 1B dam

Also in advance of the water testing, a 20m section of the channel bank in Phase 1A was restored where the towpath was below the required level. This was effected in a quasi-traditional way with a layer of clay covering the aggregate used for the repair. In the 21st century, the back of a digger bucket replaced a flock of sheep for puddling. Clay for this repair and the temporary dams was all salvaged from the previous project thereby saving the cost of buying what is now an extremely costly material.

Channel bank repair

Work on repairs to the wharf wall and wash wall continued. This time, Hari and Peter from National Rail spent a company volunteer day with their colleague Mike making a first-rate repair to a section of the wharf wall. Many thanks to them for donating their time. A few more of the existing copings were replaced on top of the repaired wharf wall. Much of the remainder is now expected to wait till next summer once additional copings have been sourced. On the wash wall, young person volunteer Josh tried his hand with lime mortar repairs under the watchful eye of Margaret and received a glowing commendation.

Hari, Peter, Mike and wall repair

Congratulations are also due to Kelly, Tim and Paul who spent a couple of days getting ticketed as tracked dumper operators and put their new-found skills to good use transporting 40 tonnes of aggregate from the compound to the towpath works.

Proud plant operators Kelly and Tim

Stump saga update: it’s a bit smaller! Society pyrotechnicians were at work on Friday doing such a good job that not even Storm Antoni could put out the fire the following day. (See Phase 1B dam picture.)

A varied and productive work party.

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

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