Lichfield & Hatherton Canal Restoration Trust

LHCRT  Working Party Blog   July 2016

Tamworth Road  July 6th to July 17th.

On holiday? Long hot sunny days in the garden? Taking the cat,or dog, for walkies? Lack of get up and go?   For whatever the reason  our volunteer input  seems to have fallen.

But, you say, looking at the quoted volunteers hours posted with each blog, the hours seem much as usual.  This  is because I now calculate the hours using the time a volunteer is actually at  the Tamworth Road site, which is naturally more than the actual hours worked.  However the point I am trying to make is that we are still struggling on Thursdays and at the weekends to have as many bods as we would like.

Perhaps our volunteers are getting a bit jaded with endless days of concreting followed by more days of concreting.   But  the canal bed concreting  has an increasingly large light at the end of the tunnel.  We are nearly there!  By the time my next blog is written it will be finished.   Although good news this may well be, it is not the end of concreting.  There remains the reinforcement of the left hand bank batter to do.  This is still time consuming but less of an arduous  task, and then when the penstock, which controls the outflow from pound 27 into the weir and beyond is installed,  we should get some water into the cut.  Sorry chaps ,I forgot to mention the clay platform at the bottom of the towpath wall to finish and the fitting of the Geoweb mesh along the top of the batter, both of which we still have to do.

When the celebrations have died down we can then wholeheartedly sort out the clay in the winding hole, put some stop planks in the narrows and then flood the whole area.  Reasons for more celebrations I think.

On a serious note, I am taking the opportunity of this blog to request all volunteers who work at Tamworth Road, or anywhere else for that matter, to , at the end of the day,  ensure that any tools they have used, are returned to the tool shed in a clean condition.  This rule applies to the dumpers, digger, and concrete mixer as well as small tools. It is not reasonable to expect site leaders to spend extra time after you have all gone to do this for you.

Hours work over this blog period   327

Hugh Millington

Photos by Christine Howles

Tamworth Road  June 22nd  to July 3rd.

Looking through my notes for these two weeks it seems to me that most of the time we have been mixing and laying concrete followed by more concrete and still more concrete.

The concrete free area at the base of the canal is rapidly shrinking and spirits are starting to rise in anticipation that the completion of this task is nigh.

During this period we have satisfactorily overcome the problems we had with the jointing of adjacent sections of the concrete canvas.  We are now using a heat gun which melts the plastic between the concrete canvas which then, when pressed together, becomes a tough waterproof bond.  Pity we didn't use this method right from the word go.  It would have saved having to repair some dodgy joints and a fortune in the grout we originally used. I hope that in my next blog I can report that this task is now complete.

As usual things are not always straight forward.  During this period on several occasions we had to pump out flood water before work could be started. So the lads have built an earth dam up by lock 26 which hopefully will divert future flood waters away from our work areas.

So that's this two weekly blog. Concreting, Concrete Canvas laying, plus grass cutting, hedge cutting, and not to forget the boys who have been replacing a few broken bricks and cracks in the weir. The volunteer force is magnificent, the input by them remains very high.  I think it must be due to the punnets of strawberrys and raspberrys that Rick Nelson brings, that keep us going.  

Hours worked this week total 331

Hugh Millington

Photos by Margaret Beardsmore LRPS

Tamworth Road  July 20h to July 31st.

Looking back at my previous blog, 6-17th July, I forecast that by the time I came to write  this blog that all the concrete in the base of pound 27 would be completed. Sorry folks but it isn't quite.

Correction - it wasn't then but is now. Over the last few weeks I felt that a degree of 'concrete mixing fatigue' was setting in among the volunteers .

With the end in sight I decided to order in a delivery of  'mix it on site' concrete from Moody's.  On Wednesday 27th at 11 o'clock the delivery arrived and by lunchtime it had been laid, tamped and trowelled with a whole lot less effort by our workforce. All 6.25 cubic meters of it.   This has left us with an smallish area of concreting still to complete.  Perhaps another 7 cubic meters.  This is coming at about 11 0'clock this Wednesday 3rd August.

And that finishes the base.  There is still a lot of concreting to do in reinforcing the canal  bank batter.  But although time consuming this is not such a slog that the canal base proved to be.

So an early 'thank you'  to all the volunteers.

The ambition to have pound 27 in water by the end of the year is starting to look more 'do able'.  I am concerned that the supply and installation of the penstock in the weir will be the sticking point, that and the Environmental Agency's impending agreement on the subject of an impounding water licence can still  thwart this achievement.

Other work on the site has been the delivery of countless lorry loads of clay.  Our newly purchased 3 tonne dumper truck has proved it's worth in taking load after load down to the winding hole for distribution and puddling at a later date.

The problem of excess weed growth in pound 26 continues to be a problem. Stacks of the stuff has had to be pulled out to enable a planned 'taster fishing session' to take place this coming weekend. Apparently after the weed has been pulled out of the water we are supposed to let it rest at the side of the pound for a while to allow the creepy crawlies get themselves back into the water.  At home I've found that if you leave the weed at the side of the pond for a while then the birds, particularly the blackbirds love to feed among it.

Still short of volunteers on Thursdays and the weekend, so if you can give of an hour or two it would be much appreciated.

Hours worked for these two weeks     331

Hugh Millington

With one final pad of concrete, the base is complete!  

Photo August 3rd  by Roland