This work party was centred on the Crickheath end of the site. By its conclusion the vegetation clearance work on the whole of Phase 2 was finished and the stream which has delivered so much unwanted water to the channel was successfully diverted. All of the hard work was offset by that staple of the December work party, the always highly enjoyable Christmas dinner. This was held in a pub in Llanymynech on Friday. Also, and appropriately for the time of year, we had a visit during the weekend from three men bearing a gift.
The diversion of the Crickheath stream occupied half the volunteers for the whole of the weekend. The stream drains a large area of adjacent farmland and enters the Crickheath site via a culvert under a lane. The culvert headwall was tested and found to leak badly under pressure. The various holes in the headwall were filled and a new concrete face added which fixed the problem. The excavation of the pipe run across the site turned out to be easier than expected because by good fortune it missed all the tree stumps known to be lurking below ground level. The connection to the canal was more difficult and involved threading the pipe around concrete features installed as part of the Crickheath basin work. By Saturday night the entire pipe was installed and the water was flowing satisfactorily. All that remained on Sunday was to backfill the excavation and seal the canal end of the pipe with puddle.
The other major effort was vegetation clearance on the towpath side of the channel. This involved completely removing the hedge – in truth more a jumble of old trees, brambles and blackthorn – over the last 30 metres of bank up to the Crickheath clay dam. This was necessary to permit the future construction of permanent works in the area. The other task was removing the new growth on all of the tree stumps adjacent to the towpath which might interfere with future work on the channel banks. All of the brash was dispatched on two large bonfires.
All of which brings us to our visitors. Society member Maurice Ward, together with two friends Keith Scargill and Dave Morris (both active CRT volunteers), have recently won a prestigious volunteering award. All worked together at CRT’s Ellesmere Yard Pattern Room. This contained 1300 nineteenth century wooden patterns which were used for casting in metal the various fittings seen around the canal system. Each item was catalogued for the National Waterways Museum database and display shelving installed. For this work the three men were awarded the 2019 Marsh Award for High Impact Team Volunteering. Very generously the associated cash prize of £500 has been donated towards the continuing restoration of the Montgomery Canal. The photograph shows the formal presentation of this to the Society.
We have reached the end of a year in which we have experienced throughout the vicissitudes of canal restoration. The various ecological, geological, engineering and logistical problems have somehow been overcome, and we look forward to more of the same next year.