October 2023 work party report

October 5-8

(Click on any of the below photos to open a higher resolution version.)

As has been the case for so many of the work parties this year, a great variety of different tasks were undertaken and, once again, major milestones achieved.

Milestone 1: the water test is underway! On this occasion, the work party took place over four days with a handful of volunteers also attending on Thursday to help with the set-up. The day started with delivery of the large pump and associated pipework. This was positioned by Crickheath Bridge with kind permission to locate it in the garden of Pear Tree Cottage. Water is supplied from Crickheath Basin and pumped along the offside bank above the wharf wall to the two test areas, a distance of approximately 240m to the furthest. The purpose of the testing is to inform what waterproofing will be required and where (if any). By Thursday afternoon, pumping had started.

Pump and pipe delivery

At the time of writing this report, testing is still underway. Several top-ups are planned over the coming week or so and close inspection of the site is undertaken each day. It has already been established that some form of waterproofing will be required in Phase 1B. Based on the test results, CRT will confirm the final design and specification over winter and channel works will commence next year.

Initial fill of Phase 1A test area

Milestone 2: towpath works for Phase 1B completed! Fantastic progress was made over all three days of the regular Friday to Sunday work party. A couple of access points have been incorporated into the towpath to allow for movement of plant and materials when channel works commence. This work is funded by a grant from the National Grid Community Fund. The grant also funds further environmental improvements with tree and hedge planting which will be completed over the next couple of work parties.

Completed towpath stretching into the distance

Milestone 3: Crickheath Bridge wash wall completed! The wall was in a rather dilapidated state. It was repairable for the most part, though the southern end required rebuilding. The wash wall extends 25 metres south from the bridge on the towpath side and has been repaired using a lime-based mortar.

Wash wall – job done!

Further substantial progress has been made with repairs to the wharf wall thanks to the sterling efforts of John, Mike and Imogen of the Dry Stone Walling Association with assistance along the way from the Society’s volunteers. Most of the wall is now ready for final adjustment before replacing the existing copings which all have some variation in dimensions. Conditions permitting, this will start next work party. The new coping stones funded by the Association for Industrial Archaeology will be placed next year.

Wallers at work
…and at rest! Filling gap left by the stump behind the repaired wall

Other activities undertaken were inspection and vegetation clearance around the hedging whips planted in the spring – all doing well, weeding and tidying in the compound area and moving material to the bonfire site by the stump (remember that?) for the next burn-up. No doubt there’ll be a ‘stump update’ in a future report.

Once again, a great work party. Thanks to all.

Posted in Montgomery Canal, Restoration, Shropshire Union Canal Society, Work Party.

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