September 2016 work party report

Society volunteers were in action at three separate locations over the four days of the September work party. The main construction work was on the newt ponds at Redwith, and on the mooring wall back at Pryces Bridge. In addition a number of volunteers erected and staffed the Society’s stand at the Maesbury Canal Festival. A busy weekend!

Events kicked off on Thursday with a visit from staff of the Heritage Lottery Fund in connection with the CRT bid for funding for the Montgomery Canal restoration. The three HLF visitors were shown some of the Society’s work. The grant application will be assessed in the next few weeks and we keep our fingers and toes firmly crossed. Also on Thursday we had the usual run of deliveries including three loads of puddle clay all the way from Blackpool.

Work on the mooring started on Friday and continued throughout the work party. This now follows a well practiced routine. Mortar and concrete is produced as required in our venerable mixer and transported to the wall using the power barrow. The actual process of laying the stone involves one person initially sorting the stone and the second volunteer actually laying it. The wall is finished using a number of processes to cut back the mortar to expose the aggregate. And very nice the finished product looks!

The mixer back in action
Wharf wall stonework

The work on the ponds occupied the bulk of the workforce. On Friday the bricks from the old culvert, and the accumulated tree trunks and other timber, was transported to Redwith using a grab-equipped truck. The first of the ponds dug at Redwith during the last work party had leaked and thus was re-lined and filled with water. The puddling work was done by a combination of machine bucket, boots and wooden rammers. The latter was very hard work and far better exercise than a trip to a gym.

The first newt pond being repuddled and relined
The first newt pond being repuddled and relined

Inspection first thing on Saturday showed that the newly lined pond had leaked once more, albeit not by much. The plan to let the level drop to see if the site of the leak could be identified was thwarted by the weather. In fact it rained so much that the leaking pond actually filled up during the day, and the puddling operations were switched to the second pond. The weather made this a thoroughly miserable experience with all those involved getting thoroughly soaked, but the work was finished. The weather also caused stone laying on the wall to be suspended for several hours. Lime mortar is nigh on impossible to work with in torrential rain even with the aid of a temporary shelter.

Both newt ponds after refilling

The good news on Sunday morning was that the pond lined the day before was holding water and work was concentrated on re-puddling the first pond (again) this time apparently with more success. Setting out work on the towpath and clearance of vegetation blocking access to next phase of works completed a very productive weekend. One of the traditions of the Society is that new works are ‘opened’ by the Society Chairperson. In the case of the new newt ponds this task was performed this weekend by our Acting Chairman, who is better known on site as our Welfare Officer. The opening ceremony consisted of a few well chosen words by our illustrious guest followed by a full inspection of the ponds. This was conducted with his customary zeal and included viewing some of their underwater features. It is a pleasure to report that as far as one could tell he was none the worse for the experience.

Posted in Montgomery Canal, Pryces Bridge to Crickheath Bridge Restoration, Restoration, Work Party.

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