Week ending March 29th

Our first full week back “at home”, and quite a satisfying one despite some unpleasant weather at the weekend. On Wednesday we seemed a bit hung-over and disorganised after our long sojourn at Summerhill, so although we had an excellent turnout the results were a bit disappointing. The dry conditions allowed us to move a lot more clay down to the winding hole but we still have problems actually spreading , levelling and compacting the stuff; very frustrating really, but we’ll work out a system soon.

Saturday started with persistent light rain but we pressed on with preparing the area below Lock 26  and improving weather in the afternoon gave us time to concrete another good section . Meanwhile, at the other end of the site, Jean and Sue worked all day planting daffodils ( rescued from Summerhill ) in the area around “Farrant’s Coppice”. We’ve had many appreciative comments about the towpath trail in general; it’s hard to remember what it looked like less than a year ago, but it was certainly worth the effort.

Sunday was a carbon copy, apart from the girls’ efforts, of Saturday; same windy, wet morning but a decent afternoon and another good slab of concrete laid. The only downside was the failure of our vibrating poker, an essential piece of kit. A poor design has caused excessive wear to the drive mechanism, but Keith has taken the offending components to a welder friend in the hope that he can repair them.

We’ve now reached a tricky stage with the concreting, as the big pipe and associated structures have to be negotiated, and we have to incorporate a slipway into our plans very soon, so there are interesting weeks ahead.


Total volunteer hours:   160  by 21  volunteers                           Document - Canals & Rivers Trust Specification for Puddle Clay

Photos by Christine Howles

Rolls-Royce Rick and the 'Ton of Clay' Challenge. Rolling this stuff is as close as it gets to the life of a dung beetle!

LHCRT's answer to The Terminator - in action at Tamworth Road.
It rolls the clay, sometimes gets stuck in the clay.

Pictures by Roly Onekenobe  25th March, from our Facebook Group

Week ending March 22nd

On Wednesday afternoon we thought we’d reached the end of our first phase of work at Summerhill, but the last-minute promise of a group of about 20 volunteers caused a hasty rethink of our plans for the weekend, so instead of going to Tamworth Road on Saturday we returned to “The Boat” with the aim of dismantling the old sand wharf and reclaiming the bricks. Unfortunately the expected large group didn’t materialise, the 4 who did make it were outnumbered by our own quite modest gang. Nevertheless we achieved a good day’s work; once the top few courses of loose brickwork were removed the rest of the wall was found to be extremely strong, so it seems pointless and time-consuming to dismantle it completely. We’ll probably build a new outer skin to make it more watertight and to hide some of the strange mis-matched courses of the old structure.

At last, on Sunday, Hugh led the return to Tamworth Road and made excellent progress at Lock 26, preparing and concreting another sizeable section around the junction of the bywash and the big pipe. We’re at a critical stage now, as we need to build a slipway and remove the big pipe, but need detailed plans for the former and permission from Severn Trent and the Environment Agency for the latter. Drier conditions on site mean that we can turn our attention to getting the clay lining into the winding hole area, hopefully with less of a battle than before.


Total volunteer hours:   177  by 27  volunteers

The work party were joined by some extra volunteers this week.

They were joined by some young people who are currently on the National Citizen Scheme (NCS) program.   NCS is open to all 15 to 17-year-olds and gives them a chance to build their skills for work and life, by taking on new challenges.  As part of the programme, the group are required to carry out a voluntary social action project in their local area. They chose to come and work for us and we hope this could be the start of a great volunteering partnership.

Right - Old bricks are removed, cleaned and stacked ready for rebuilding.

Below - Two volunteers from NCS - Samanta Valauga left and Cara McDonald.

Below Right - Two young volunteers who are regular members of the team - Harry Wem and Harry Ayto, both 14 years old.

Week ending March 15th

As I suspected might be the case, we were unable to complete our current phase of work at Summerhill last week. We did very well with a good attendance on Wednesday, but a disappointing turnout on Saturday and a blank Mothering Sunday left us a bit short of our target.

This Wednesday will certainly see the end of the job for a few weeks; at the weekend we’ll be back at Tamworth Rd. where we have a lot of catching-up to do. There’s more concrete to lay at Lock 26 and, weather permitting, a chance to renew our acquaintance with our old friend, Mr.Clay. Happy days ahead, as the days lengthen and perhaps even get warmer.


Total volunteer hours:   119  by 19  volunteers

left to right   Barry, Terry, George, Bob, Malcolm, Roland and Keith                    Picture Hugh Millington

On the other side of the Aqueduct the Green Team have completed planting the new hedge, except for a a few yards, having run out of whips!      Picture Paul Marshall

Some before and after photos

1st January 2015                                                           6th  March 2015

Week ending March 8th

After nearly 2 months of intense scrub-bashing we’re nearly at the end of this phase of our work at Summerhill. Another excellent turnout on each day resulted in the clearance of the remaining brash from the canal bed. We’re now working our way from The Boat up to the aqueduct, having a final tidy-up; another good week could see us finished, but Wednesday’s weather forecast isn’t good and it’s Mothering Sunday this weekend, so we may run over.

Once again the Green Team and the Staffords have been hard at work on the Barracks Lane side of the aqueduct, bringing new life to the site. Thanks, as always, to everyone for their efforts in what has been a really hard slog.

Total volunteer hours:   162  by 26  volunteers

10th March - The Summerhill section  now largely cleared -   Click picture for a larger image  - Pictures by Stefan Szulc.

Week ending March 1st.

I’m afraid this report is becoming a little repetitive as we continue to clear the canal channel and banks. The towpath is completely clear now, but there’s still some scrub on the offside and a bit of brash to burn. The contractors brought their stump grinder on Monday and worked their way down to The Boat during the week, reducing the thickest stumps to chippings in no time.

On Sunday we erected a temporary security fence along the bank of the canal, to keep intruders out of the quarry.

On the other side of the toll road the Green Team have been busy planting several hundred “whips” of mixed hedging to replace and supplement the old one.

Once again, thanks to excellent turnout of volunteers for their hard work and enthusiasm.


Total volunteer hours: (not including the ‘Green Team’)   171  by 23  volunteers

Lichfield & Hatherton Canal Restoration Trust

LHCRT  Working Party Blog   March 2015