May 6-8 and 20-22
The big news this month is that lining/blocking has started in the Phase 2 channel and that the channel is final shaped all the way from the end of Phase 1 to the oak tree. The continuing dry weather and consequent falling groundwater levels allowed both work parties to revert to three days duration. Volumes are now such that the former Thursday activity of pumping out the channel has, thankfully, been dispensed with.
The lining gang were quickly into the groove in the first weekend and completed about 30m of channel starting at the site of the old LAF clay dam. The day was enlivened by one of the enduring mysteries of lining operations – the wind that appears from nowhere on an otherwise calm day precisely when sheet materials are being laid. The entire stock of blocks in the LAF compound including a load delivered that day all ended up in the channel. By the end of the second work party, some 70m of channel was lined and blocked – an outstanding effort. A particular source of satisfaction to all concerned was that this section included the site of the Hell Hole.
The shaping gang was hard at work as well. Work included levelling a large area of channel bed, the finishing touches to shaping the ‘subsidence banks’ adjacent to the oak tree and filling in the two access ramps on this section. By the end of the second weekend, shaping was complete all the way to oak tree. It is now possible to stand on the newly installed blockwork and see the course of the channel all the way to Crickheath.
Although the groundwater levels appear to be dropping, the major problem is now water entering the site at Pryces Bridge. There are leaks both around the stop planks/clay bund and via cavities in the brickwork wing walls. To counter this, an electricity supply was re-established to power a pump in the sump adjacent to the bridge which will return the water to whence it came. There were two further tasks to complete a busy month. The remaining section of pipe for the Crickheath culvert was installed. This will eventually take water from the field on the offside to a ditch opposite. Finally, the first of the rip-rap on the newly lined Phase 2 banks was installed. So after eighteen months of work at various locations on Phase 2, it is all beginning to come together to produce a continuous channel that, with a little imagination, might be mistaken for a canal!