Lichfield & Hatherton Canal Restoration Trust

LHCRT  Working Party Blog   November 2016

Tamworth Road Work Party
Nov 2nd to 13th.

Following on from my previous blog, the engine problems with the smaller Kubota digger continue.

Getting the machine from by the narrows meant that the engine had to be run regardless of the ominous noises from within.

Whilst trying to drive it up the ramp onto the recovery truck the engine gave up altogether.  At the repairers it was found that the crankshaft had broken. The engine now is just so much scrap and a reconditioned unit or new engine has to be sourced. Fortunately we have use of the larger Kubota digger.  It was intended for the broken down machine to be returned to Summerhill for towpath work with outside volunteer parties. To keep them occupied a hired digger was procured.

Meanwhile, work at Tamworth Road has proceeded,  the weather has not been great. Rain soon turns the work area into mud. The volunteer hours have fallen over this period.  The continued  absence of Bob Houghton and George Cross doesn't help. We wish them both well and look forward to the days when they return.

The task of cutting the big pipe sections down by 1 meter is nearly completed.  At the last count there can only be a handful of pipes still to be cut.

The big news of this blog is that the missing sections of the penstock  have been replaced.  It didn't take long for them to be assembled and installed into  the weir.  The canal pound 27 end of the penstock has been sealed between it and the big pipe with concrete and we are now in a position where we can regulate the flow of water out from the canal. By restricting the out flow the other day, just before a very wet Friday night we noticed that pound 27 had filled by nearly half a meter. This argues well for the pound to be totally in water when ever the Environment Agency will agree to a sustainable water outflow figure, and a few good rain storms!

Last Thursday and Friday was the occasion of First Aid Training for our volunteers. This was held at the new fire station in Lichfield.  Thanks to Christine and Dora for organizing it. Those of us who attended the course learnt a lot about the subject, and hope we shall never have to apply our newly acquired knowledge.

Finally, thanks to Christine Bull who, with school volunteers, seeded the canal's left hand bank with grass seed. Thanks to all our volunteers I feel that we can now claim to have provided the Trust with another section of the canal that can be put back into water.

Hugh Millington     
Photos Christine Howles

The Green Team at Summerhill

Nov 11th.

In thoroughly miserable weather the Green Team got started on planting 420 tree saplings provided free of charge by the Woodlands Trust with  sponsors Ikea. Some Oaks and Silver Birch were taken to Roger’s nursery to be grown on some more before planting out. Others will be used to thicken up the newly laid hedge.

On November 5th specialist training in the art of hedgelaying was provided by Staffordshire Wildlife Trust rep Hayley Dorrington. Read more on our  ‘Environment Matters’ page.

Paul Marshall

Corporate Volunteers at Summerhill

On Nov 2nd a great team of 11 came to help us from BT, from offices in Brighton, Leeds, Doncaster, and Manchester.

The main task for the day was to lay the wooden edge planks for the towpath trail heading toward the Boat Inn (a good target). With David Hancock leading, they installed close to 300 metres of edging making that section ready for the excavator to scrape off the area in front of the board ready for the next group to fix the front board.

Meanwhile a couple of the BT team helped our regular volunteers to place concrete to the rear of the north canal channel wall over Cranebrook Culvert.

This proved to be another very successful day with some new friends from BT and a great deal was achieved with their hard work.

Another group of BT Volunteers came to Summerhill on Tuesday 8th November, this group included several on a second visit to the Lichfield Canal.

The group set about striking and cleaning the formwork to the north rear concrete wall to the canal channel over the Cranebrook Culvert and re fixing the formwork for the top of the concrete wall, a task which took all morning.

After a well earned lunch the group lead by David Hancock moved to placing timber path edging and Infilling with recycled stone subbase to a section of the Heritage Towpath Trail which had been filled to level in the morning by Bob Williams and Tony Gardner.

By the end of the afternoon a further section of the Heritage Towpath Trail had been completed  and with the work completed on the Cranebrook Culvert wall formwork earlier in the day, all in all a great achievement by the hard working volunteers and friends from BT.

Our sincere thanks to all who put in so much to make both days such  a success.

Peter Buck

Roger Barnett explains the plan to Hilary Smith

Connie Benson brings another batch to the planting site followed by Hilary.

Undergoing training conducted by Phil Grigg of Radmore Training at Lichfield Fire Station.
Twenty of our volunteers achieved qualifications in QA Level 2 Emergency First Aid.

Tamworth Road Work Party
Nov 16th to 27th.

This is the blog you've all been waiting for! This is the first time we could call pound 27 a viable part of the Lichfield Canal. It all came about on 21st November. The heavens opened and down came the rain. Not just a shower but nearly 24 hours of the real heavy stuff.

Prior to this, you will recall, the penstock had been fitted through into the weir. Sealing the gap between it and the 'big pipe' that goes through to this weir is a bung of concrete. The gate valve on the weir end of this pipe had been adjusted to give a throughput of water of about one litre per second as required by the Environment Agency.

Then came the rain. All night, and most of the following day as well, it rained really hard. Those who were lucky enough to go down and see the resulting flood water coming through the pipes into lock 25 and further into pound 26 and over the bywash into pound 27 will have been most impressed.

The result was that pound 27 started to fill. As the day progressed it got deeper and deeper. Its depth peeked just about an inch or two below the weir at Bobbie’s Bend. Those who were lucky enough to see it found the sight really amazing.

However, all is not perfect, with all this water about it showed us that there were some quite serious leaks in this weir's walls. Not a great problem to rectify but it required the canal to be drained again. The lads have now done this and carried out the necessary repairs, and we eagerly await the next downpour to test the results of their efforts.

We all expected some water loss from this pound, but over a period of time the smaller leeks will silt up. It was always expected that the water level in this pound will fluctuate depending on the season and weather until we have a more reliable source of water.

The downside of all this rain is that our work between the Narrows and the A51 Tamworth Road has become almost impossible, because of mud, except for the bricklayers.

So, the volunteer force has redirected its attention to pound 24 and in particular the towpath from the bridge at the tail of lock 24 to Cricket Lane. Here we are to improve the towpath to reflect that which runs alongside pound 27.

This work would be a lot easier if we had use of the smaller of our two diggers, which is ideal for towpath work, but alas it is still awaiting an engine that works. There is no promise on a date for this unfortunately.

My thanks to all the volunteers for all their hard work. Keep it up lads and you might get a couple of weeks off at the end of December and a mince pie if you're lucky.


Hugh Millington     
Photos Christine Howles

The effect of Storm Angus was to fill pound 27 in just a few hours

Photos Bob Williams   Nov. 22nd.

Penstock control valve

Pound 24 and Lock 25 where work began in 2000. Read more about the early years here.