The Society and Canal & River Trust have signed a Memorandum of Understanding for the Society’s latest restoration project on the Montgomery Canal at Crickheath. Unlike the last project where ground subsidence was a major factor and a complex engineering design was required, the design for the new project is expected to be much simpler. A pilot scheme will be conducted over the summer to inform the design.
The Shropshire Union Canal Society has recently completed the restoration of the section of the Montgomery Canal channel from Pryces Bridge to Crickheath Bridge. The original canal in this area was built over an area of bad ground including a peat bog. Subsidence had destroyed much of the profile of the channel affecting long lengths of bank. The society was responsible for constructing the bespoke engineering solution to restore this section. This involved a considerable amount of earthmoving, installation of a multi-layer waterproofing system and lining throughout with concrete blocks. Although producing a successful outcome, this work was both time consuming and expensive.
The society has recently commenced work on the channel south of Crickheath. From here onward the nature of the extant channel changes. The canal profile is largely intact with no evidence of subsidence. Professional ground investigations between Crickheath and Schoolhouse Bridge indicate that the underlying strata is much better than the previous section. These factors mean that there is an opportunity for a revised approach which potentially offers quicker and cheaper channel restoration. If such an approach were successful this has profound implications for work on the remainder of the dry section to Llynymynech.
The Society and Canal and River Trust are about to conduct a pilot scheme to see if a revised approach of minimum intervention to the existing channel will bring about a successful result. In essence this will involve shaping the channel to as near as possible its original profile, remedial work on banks and other structures as necessary and a test to see the degree to which the channel hold water. The results of this test will determine what other work is required to bring the section up to navigable standards.
The various stages of this work are covered by a Memorandum of Understanding between Canal & River Trust (Client and Principal Designer) and Shropshire Union Canal Society (Principal Contractor). Throughout the project, the nature of channel work and testing will be agreed in advance by the parties. Although it is the intention to avoid unnecessary work, it is recognised that some sections of channel may require additional work to bring them to an acceptable standard. This may include bank stabilisation or channel lining. The Trust will confirm any revised design requirements (subject to pilot) and will sign off completed works at mutually agreed stages.