This month saw two ‘milestone events’ on the construction programme reached. The fourth and final bank requiring surcharge was finished, and the protracted preparations for the start of lining work were, at long last, completed. There were a variety of other hard graft tasks. These were made even harder by rain and mud in the first work party, and temperatures close to 30 degrees for the duration of the second.
The ‘surcharge bank’ in question was that on the offside adjacent to the LAF clay dam – opposite the new towpath bank constructed last month. Some 200 tonnes of stone were delivered by dumper from the Crickheath compound, and 80 tonnes of the same came by power barrow from the LAF compound. Five layers of heavy-duty geogrid were incorporated into the structure. By Sunday morning all 280 tonnes of stone from the compounds had been used up. The stone necessary to finish the bank was taken from our own on-site quarry –material reused from the ‘subsidence banks’ where the settlement process is now complete. In this case the donor was the towpath bank at the oak tree which was reduced in height by removal of the surcharge.
Over the six days 40metres of channel between the oak tree and Crickheath was final shaped and is now ready for lining/blocking. This was a major effort mainly using hand tools. If that was not hard enough work the same gang switched to emptying, moving (again manually), and filling the IBCs from the offside ‘subsidence bank’ at the oak tree to the bank described above. This was a really outstanding effort.
Having finished work on stone banks for the time being the machine gang turned their attention during the second weekend to the earth banks between the oak tree and LAF. The initial work was on the remaining 50 metre long section of untreated channel bed down to but not including the Hell Hole. Large quantities of peat and other nasties were removed and replaced with stockpile material liberally laced with grout. Finally the first layer of stockpile material forming the bottom of the bank was delivered and compacted. The (maybe rather optimistic) hope is that this work might reduce the amount of groundwater entering the channel in this area.
Delivery of materials would not normally warrant much of a mention in these reports but times are such that material availability risks becoming a programme constraint. After the protracted rigmarole in getting the liner – see work party reports passim – it finally arrived in time to be tested and cut to size during the second weekend. Also the nationwide shortage of building materials means that getting blocks is likely to become increasingly difficult in future. However we now have sufficient materials to enable lining/blocking work to start during the first August work party. This work is always one of the most popular tasks in the restoration, and we look forward to a good turn-out of volunteers to use up our hard won stock of materials!