Lichfield & Hatherton Canal Restoration Trust

August 3rd 2015

Firstly I want to say how much we miss Terry.  He did a fine job as Lichfield Site Manager over the last three years or so. If you think back to what has been achieved at Tamworth Road during this period of time it is truly astonishing.

The Towpath Trail was established from next to nothing.  The winding hole was constructed from a-z.  Lock 27 was cleared of years and years of rubbish and  repaired, the base re concreted, and the lock filled with water. The slipway was built, and much of the canal base by lock 27 was cleared and concreted.

In addition, this February, the epic clearing of the canal base at Summerhill of fifty years of tree growth.  The length of the canal from the Boat Inn to the aqueduct on the M6 toll road. An incredibly short period of time in which it had to be done, it had to be experienced to be believed. All of this under Terry's watch.

Over the last few weeks we at Tamworth Road have finally completed the new slipway,  the last brick laid, the last concrete poured.  We are quite pleased with the outcome. We are steadily progressing with the concreting of the base of the canal from lock 27 towards the weir.  A slow but steady rate of about four meters per week.  This depends on volunteer numbers and the weather. A black pipe has been installed from pound 26 along the towpath wall all the way to the weir. When we have sorted out some problems with leaky joints this pipe will allow us to maintain a steady flow of water all the way to the A38 and keep the Environmental Agency happy.  If and when they are happy perhaps they will let us remove the big concrete land drain pipe down the centre of the canal which is seriously disrupting our progress.

At Summerhill Mike Brown and others have dug a trench all along the towpath to accommodate the new electricity supply cables to the quarry.  This has been completed and the cables installed and the trench backfilled . The next major job is to build up the towpath to its correct height and finish it to the same high standard that we achieved at Tamworth Road.  No small ask!

Thanks to all who have given us of their time at both Tamworth Road and Summerhill,  without you none of this could have been achieved.

I don't have a figure for the hours worked,  but keep up the good work.  

Hugh Millington            Photos: Christine Howles

August 12th 2015

As with previous weeks the volunteer turnout on Saturdays and Sundays was disappointing. Although it has to be said that those of us who attended did lots of useful work and  laid the foundation for the Wednesday 'mob' to get stuck in early and achieve much progress.

Wednesdays are by far the most popular days with attendances in the teens. As implied above, the weekenders had prepared areas for more concrete to be laid.  It took the shuttering gang little time to prepare a new big area, this enabled the concreting gang to get stuck in early with the mixing.  By lunchtime this prepared area was nearly completed.  After lunch we had time to prepare yet another  area for concreting  only this time on the other side of the big pipe near the slipway. By stretching the working time by a hour or so we managed to get this area into concrete as well.

This latest area now gives us an insight into to the task of lining, waterproofing and protecting this off side bank.  We need to achieve a bank with a 2:1 batter (slope to the uninitiated) that is waterproof and will withstand the battering that the narrowboat brigade will undoubtedly give it  We need to decide on this so that when the' big pipe ' is removed we know what we are doing and can proceed with the re-watering without delay

In addition to all this activity with concrete, progress was made on the black bypass pipe from pound 26 to the weir.  Hopefully this coming Sunday we can make the final connection.

Again thanks to all for their input.  

An estimation of hours worked  is 107  (I do not have exact numbers for the Saturday )


Hugh Millington            Photos: Christine Howles        Click photos for a larger view

August 15th 2015

Sometimes, quite often actually, we get asked by the general public walking our Heritage Towpath Trail what we are doing with all this concreting? what are we doing with the 'Big Pipe?' and what is the small black pipe on the towpath wall for?  Some of our volunteers are not sure either.  So maybe a short explanation is required.

The aim of all this work is get the section of pound 27 down to the weir in water. In the old days Navvies used to lay clay along the canal bed to prevent water loss . In those days labour was cheap and plentiful and large areas could be done at a time.  Today however with only our small volunteer force to do this task we have to do it differently. When clay is laid it has to be kept wet.  If it dries out it will crack and will not be any use for retaining water.  Therefore we now must work on smaller areas at a time and have water available nearby with which to keep any newly laid clay wet.

We must now work along pound 27 in small sections.  Once the concreting has been completed,  the 'Big Pipe' can be taken out for say 40 to 50 meters.  Concreting under where this pipe was then needs to be done.  There is to be a clay infill between the concrete base and the base of the towpath wall.  This infill measures approximately 1.5 meters wide and .5 of a meter thick.  A clay platform is required so that if the canal water level falls any boats tied alongside the wall will just sink down onto that platform.  So, once all the concreting is done and the clay platform laid, and the bank opposite the towpath made waterproof we have to make a temporary dam from side to side.  We can now flood the first section.  Job done!  The next section can now be prepared.  Another length of the 'Big Pipe' can be taken out, say another 30 to 40 meters. Any flood waters will need to be channeled back into the big pipe again until these preparations are complete. The black pipe alongside the towpath wall has in the mean time been keeping the minimum permitted flow of water from pound 26 to the weir  We then build the next dam a further 30 to 40 meters towards the weir and remove the first dam. So we now have two sections in water.  And this sequence is repeated until we reach the weir.

We now have water all the way from the lock to the weir.  Here there is a temporary dam to contain this water in the pound.   This water will  be useful when we return to the winding hole to complete the laying of the clay there.

This is a somewhat simplified statement of the work still to do.  There is still work to do to make the weir work as it should.  

Hugh Millington

August 30th 2015

At Tamworth Road the concrete base is progressing at a relentless pace, although a slow relentless pace. We are now nearing the access ramp half way down towards the weir.  Then we will have to continue working on the far side of this access ramp leaving a short section to be concreted after the big pipe is removed.

Soon we will be wanting to place, and work, clay alongside the towpath wall to form the seal between the concrete and the wall and form the platform for boats to rest on should there be a fall in the canal's water depth.

A quantity of Hessian sand bags have been sourced, these need filling (2/3rds) and will be used to construct the temporary cross canal dam when we flood the first section.

The small diameter black pipe attached to the towpath wall appears to be working well.  But pound 26 is now getting very low on water and a much needed rainstorm is required to replenish it.

At times, when we have a good turnout of volunteers, the availability of a second digger and a second dumper truck would be a big bonus.  Tasks such as preparing the bank opposite the towpath for lining, moving clay or even preparing more areas to be concreted could be progressed whilst our current machines are tied up with the concreting gangs.

Again,a huge thanks to all who volunteered. You are the life blood of the entire project.

Hours worked for week ending 30th August  were 130.

Hugh Millington       

Photos Christine Howles

LHCRT  Working Party Blog   August 2015