Restoration Work at Crickheath Basin

This project cleared the previously overgrown basin of vegetation and trees, restored the original tramway wharf wall and constructed a visitor mooring. This work took place during the period from July 2006 to October 2007.

It is perhaps difficult to believe the extent to which nature had taken over the canal before the restoration started.  As the image taken from Crickheath Bridge testifies, the whole site bar a narrow section of towpath was covered in bushes, brambles and many mature trees. The first couple of monthly work parties (at that time of two days duration) were devoted to clearing enough of the site to permit vehicle access and space for a modest sized compound  housing the Society’s containers. The scale of the work involved in clearing the channel and basin may be gauged by the fact that the job took the next three work parties, each having a full complement of volunteers. This work also extended to knocking down some trees on the Redwith Bridge to Pryces Bridge section in November. As was the practice, there were no work parties during December, January and February, the volunteers having a three month break.

View from Crickheath Bridge looking north in early 2006
The compound in the jungle
View from Crickheath Bridge looking north in November 2006

Work recommenced at Crickheath in March 2007 when much of the old tramway wharf wall was dismantled.  Some of this demolition was deliberate because parts of the wall were in danger of collapse, but some was inadvertent in the course of removing two enormous tree stumps which had growth through the wall.  All of the stone from the wall and surroundings was recovered, cleaned and sorted. Rebuilding started with two gangs working from both ends. The stones were bedded in lime mortar mixed on site.  This was new to the majority of volunteers so a training course for production and use of lime mortar was arranged on site.  

The early work on rebuilding the wharf wall
Finishing touches to the wharf wall

The construction of the second ‘wharf wall’ on the site started in May.  This was a 45 metre long visitor mooring at the north end of the site.  It consisted of a line of bank protection piles fronting a reinforced concrete base. A wall made of stone similar to that of the wharf wall was constructed on the base using cement mortar.  Mainly imported stone was used  and as with the other wall construction started at both ends and worked inwards.

Piling the visitor mooring
Pile driving the hard way
Concrete pour on visitor mooring
The finished visitor mooring

The two walls were completed in October and handed over to BW prior to the Society’s move to Redwith. Their subsequent fortunes differed somewhat. The wharf wall still stands in Crickheath basin having been incorporated into the modern winding hole which was built by contractors in 2019. The visitor mooring was removed by the same contractors and replaced by deep piling as part of the basin works.