July 8-10 and 22-24
The two work parties this month were graced by the extremes of Shropshire weather but were nevertheless highly productive. Lining operations pressed on remorselessly in the general direction of Crickheath; work started on towpath construction and the shaping of the final 50m of channel was concluded.
On the first Friday, we were host to 20 Openreach employees on a volunteer day. They worked extremely hard in the very hot weather and really joined in the spirit of the day. Society and Openreach volunteers divided into two groups both working on channel lining. The larger group worked on extending the lining toward the oak tree. In doing so, they mastered the intricacies of the block chute and the power barrows. The other group worked on the gap at the site of the former LAF clay dam, an area which had been left until groundwater levels dropped. Before work could start here it was necessary to clear a considerable quantity of mud out of the channel, a feat achieved by loading it into wheelbarrows and dragging them up the bank on boards using a rope. George Watson Buck would have approved. The work output on that Friday was nothing short of amazing. The channel gained another 30m of lining toward the oak tree in one day. The society volunteers carried on the good work on the other two days leaving a gap of 50 metres until a junction with the section of lining which was finished last year.
There was no chance of volunteers getting too hot during the second work party thanks to regular showers of heavy rain. The lining work pressed on regardless and by Sunday afternoon, the channel had been lined all the way to the oak tree. Over 3000 blocks were moved from the compound into the channel closing the unlined gap to about 15 metres.
The shaping gang finished the final 50 metres of channel at Crickheath bar the short remaining section immediately adjacent to the clay dam. The opportunity was also taken to dig an exploratory hole into the dam to check on the position of the concrete lining of the basin. Finally work started on towpath construction and on finishing work on the towpath bank. Progress is good at the moment and there remains about 60 metres of channel still to be lined together with a large amount of finishing work elsewhere. The clock is ticking toward the October finishing target. Watch this space!