It is perhaps a newsworthy item in itself that this work party took place at all. Several weeks of more or less continuous heavy rain made life difficult both on and off site. Every part of the site was, like the surrounding area, completely soaked. An indication of how bad things were that the lorries bringing stone from the quarry, the location of which is visible from the site, had to take a twenty mile detour to avoid the floods. Despite all of the problems, considerable progress was made including the start of the permanent works and the installation of the first section of the land drain in the channel base.
The work started a day earlier than usual to clear the water from the channel so as to permit a flying start to construction activity on the Friday. Five volunteers got the pumps going and then entertained themselves by setting out a long section of channel. By the end of the day it was at least possible to see the bottom of the channel.
The pumps were hard at it again first thing on Friday clearing the water which had entered the channel overnight – mainly from the field on the offside which is several metres higher than the canal – and they were in continual use for the rest of the work party. The main work was on the offside bank at Crickheath. In this area the final configuration of the bank consists of layers of stone reinforced by geogrid. The present work involved putting down the first 300mm layer of this construction in such a way that it could double up as a haul road. The stone was consolidated using a vibrating compactor attached to one of the diggers.
We now have the final design for the channel. The majority of the channel will be constructed of composite earth/stone banks held together by geogrid. Work started on Saturday shaping a small section where the construction is specified as straightforward excavation/fill, a technique similar to that used on Phase 1. The vibrating compactor was successfully tested on the fill on the banks.
The other working area was in the bed of the channel close to the Crickheath clay dam. The remaining area of channel base was excavated, treated with cement grout and geogrid, and then covered with stone. Finally the sump for the land drain, together with a small length of pipe was installed and the submersible pump hooked up to the ‘juice’.
Heavy overnight rain meant that further work in the channel was not possible on the last day, the machines being employed clearing the offside bank of surplus spoil. However the submersible pump had coped well with the overnight rain, offering some hope that the days of the Thursday pumping sessions might be numbered. One final bit of good news! Lloyd’s Animal Feeds have kindly agreed that we can stay at our present base for the duration of the project.