Lichfield & Hatherton Canal Restoration Trust

LHCRT  Working Party Blog   September 2016

Tamworth Road  September 14th to 25th

Another two weeks, another month, another quarter year has just passed,  where the hell did it go?

Another blog to write, another article to stitch together for Stephan's CBW magazine. Life is just speeding passed. But then one looks back as to what has been achieved down Tamworth Road since my last blog to understand why time is flying by.

At last we have completed the concrete reinforcing half way up the left hand canal bank batter, which is lined with Concrete Canvas. Why have we only gone halfway up?  Well, its all to do with the hull shape of a typical canal narrow boat.  Most boats are slab sided, a vertical plate that reaches approximately 600mm plus below water level before it is welded to the flat bottom base plate to form a fairly sharp edge along the length of the barge. This edge would, if not protected by the concrete we have been laying, easily damage the Concrete Canvas and cause the canal to leak badly.  As this sharp edge is so far down into the water it is not necessary to concrete right up to the top.  This leaves the top portion available for water plants and grasses to grow. To assist them we are stitching a Geomesh matting to the top half of the batter.  This will trap silt and hopefully plants will grow, spreading their root system into the Geomesh and make the canal look established.

Following the completion of the concrete reinforcing the Geomesh is now being laid, and to secure this the top edge is trapped by sandbags that are filled with a weak mix of concrete. Also along the top edge of the bank you will have noticed that, at twenty yard intervals, fishing pegs are being provided for the specific use of disabled fishermen.

Beyond the narrows, towards the A51, a start has been made on improving the canal side bank of the tow path.  Use is being made of the shortened big concrete pipes that used to be down the middle of the  canal base. The off cuts from these pipes are being taken over the road into Darnford Park to be included in the noise barrier bank alongside the A38.

A continuing effort is being made to lay the clay alongside the towpath,  a little and often to the best way to tackle it!

Finally the majority of the Penstock has arrived and it will tax our brains as to how it can be threaded through in to the weir for the next few days/weeks. All we need then is for the Environmental Agency to smile on us with the required permission to impound water and you will have a bit more that you can call a canal.

My thanks to all who have and are helping with the ongoing works, great job, great blokes, keep up the good work.

Hours Sept 14th  to Sept 25th - 321

Hugh Millington

Photos by Christine Howles and Tony Cadwallader

Tamworth Road  September 1st to 11th

What is a 'penstock' ?
The word is an olden-day word  borrowed from the time of watermills.  A penstock is  a device that controls the flow of water such as a sluice or weir, or as in our case a gate valve.   We need a penstock for two reasons, the main reason being that by controlling the water flow through it to near zero we will be able to fill the finalized pound 27 with water.  The second reason is that the Environment  Agency need to be satisfied that we continue to supply about 1 litre per second of water though the canal into the brook that passes under the A38, which is what the black pipe down the towpath side wall does at this time.

I have been banging on about the sourcing of this device for several blogs, as we are getting pretty close to being ready to install it. Well, I can now report that the required pipework is on site together with lots of gasket, nuts and bolts and other bits and pieces. It will be quite an engineering job to assemble and fit this equipment, but at least we now have it!

In the meantime work has been going on as usual. The laying of the geomesh on the top half of the left hand bank batter is steadily progressing.

The filling of the sand bags continues.  These hold the geomesh along it's top edge to the top of the bank. A start has also been  made on the provision of disabled angling pegs along this bank.

More 'big pipes’ have been cut down to size. The longer pieces of these pipes will be used to reinforce the tow path edge beyond the narrows. They will also become part of the brick and concrete wall that continues towards the A51. In fact a start has been made on this task.

The clay platform along the base of the towpath wall is slowly progressing.  This is  nasty, dirty hard work and the volunteers generally don't like doing it.  A 'big' notice to those who task us with working with clay :- FIND SOMETHING ELSE -: or you'll end up with no workforce!

Talking of our workforce :-   It’s second to none. Thank you all for you time and effort without which we would be nowhere.

Hours worked Aug 31st to Sept 11th - 373

Hugh Millington

Photos Sept 4th/11th by Christine Howles