June 3-5 and 17-19
Volunteer effort during June focused on two main tasks. Lining and blocking operations really got into gear with a new record to report. Also the shaping of the last 50m of channel is now well underway. All this was helped by the continuing favourable weather which contributed to keeping the site dry and the groundwater levels low.
The stars of the show were the lining/blocking gang. Their efforts on the first weekend resulted in an advance of just over 25m along the channel. However the second time out, and aided and abetted by some very hard working volunteers from Arcadis (the consulting engineers who designed the channel), 42m of channel was lined and blocked – a record for a single day. This achievement was all the more noteworthy because it included the first complicated ‘transition’ section of channel. The channel between Pryces and Crickheath comprises sections which have different widths and slopes depending on the amount of land available and the underlying ground conditions. Thus joining adjacent sections having different profiles involves adjusting the numbers of courses of blocks involving a lot of time consuming block cutting to ensure that the lined depth of the canal remains constant.
The blocks used during the work are delivered by enormous articulated trucks to the LAF compound. Now unlike the wide open spaces of the Crickheath compound, that at LAF is a modest sized space which also serves as the welfare area as well as being used for cutting sheet materials. At one point on the Friday of the second weekend, there were over 3000 blocks which occupied, it seemed, most of the compound area. Such was the rate of progress that by the end of Sunday less than 500 were left and we could see out of the compound again.
The shaping gang got stuck into the final 50m of channel at Crickheath. During the first weekend the towpath bank was reduced to its finished height. In contrast, its counterpart on the offside gained height and now sports a headwall for the newly finished culvert.
The other major event at the Crickheath end of the site was a morning spent cutting the heavy geotextile which underlies the blockwork (the ‘carpet’), and delivering it to various parts of the site.
Although progress is good at the moment there remains a large amount of work to be done both in the channel and on finishing work on the banks. However there is a definite feeling that the hoped for finish in the autumn might be on the cards.