November 1st  2015

Surprisingly for a school half term week we had a large turnout of volunteers on Wednesday at Tamworth Road.  Sixteen of us which included the Godfrey family with twin sons Luke and Oliver.  However, come the weekend on Saturday the opposite was true with only three plus Harry and Josh.  Sunday  was about normal with six of us in attendance.

Taken over the whole week progress was made on all fronts.  With the digger still on loan from Summerhill great progress was made on profiling the left hand bank. More concreting was done on the Wednesday and the Sunday.

Other tasks addressed during the week were the filling of more sandbags, the moving of clay to the base of the towpath wall, and bricklaying around the historic bywash of pound 24.   During the week I went on a stroll along the towpath from The Boat Inn to the quarry by the aqueduct.  I was most surprised to find that the 'Staffords' , Roger and Jeannie, had started hedge laying.  A very neat 20 -30 foot length I must say.  Trouble is there is about 1 kilometer to do!  I think Roger will need some help!

The 'big pipe' is now a major pain in the backside.  It is an obstacle in all that we are attempting to do.  Be warned, there is a real danger it will be the redundant witches and warlocks left over from Halloween who will one day just removed it regardless of whoever and whatever!

Hours worked this week  160  Plus those worked by the witches and warlocks.

Hugh Millington

Photos: Christine Howles

November 8th  2015

This week we have been some what hampered in our efforts because our digger (which was supposed to have been repaired and serviced last week) became even more fragile to use. It was only able to be static along side the concrete mixer and transfer the newly mixed concrete to the dumper truck. However, did that stop us? Not in the least.

On Wednesday we had to dig a test pit for a demonstration by the manufacturer of a concrete based canal lining material. He came on Friday (in awful weather).  A trio  of 'three wise monkeys' witnessed this demonstration (Bob Peter and I). The results were not great but considering the weather conditions the material showed promise and more work and testing needs to be done before we can be sure that it is a suitable product.

Again at the weekend the weather was not great.  Good work on grading the canal bed, where we are concreting, enabled the Sunday team to assemble a good length of shuttering, and this week we will be able to lay a record amount of concrete. Tony moved a lot of earth from around the weir and constructed another access ramp at the weir end of the canal base.

I can't end this report without saying again how much life would be easier without that 'big pipe'.

Hugh Millington

Photos: Christine Howles

Click for a larger view

November 15th  2015

As predicted in my last blog, Wednesday saw us lay more concrete in a day than any other previous day. When we arrived on the Wednesday we were puzzled as to why all the wooden shuttering that we had meticulously assembled had been disturbed, and why lots of other wooden pieces were scattered around.  It eventually dawned on us that a heavy downpour of rain earlier had flooded down the canal base and washed away everything in its path. A heroic effort by a good turnout of volunteers soon repaired the damage and the concrete laid.  Little more could be achieved  that day as our digger had gone for it's repairs and service.

The Saturday was more or less a washout but repairs were made to the test pit for the proposed canal bank lining material.

Sunday started wet,  security fencing around lock 26 was found to be jettisoned into the lock.  Whether it was the strong wind or vandals or a bit of both we don't know.

However we rescued it and reinstated it . This took the three of us most of the day.

A little more clay was moved from the dump and put on the concrete to re-hydrate it prior to being laid at the base of the towpath wall.

Hours worked this week 100  

Hugh Millington

Photos  Hugh, Paul, Christine

November 22nd  2015

It was bound to happen one day and Wednesday was the day it did. The heavens  opened just about lunchtime.  Full marks to the eight man crew of that day who had mixed and laid another stretch of concrete in the morning.  It was all hands to the pump (almost literally)  when the rains came down, to divert the flood waters away from the new concrete. Dams were built in a hurry and drainage channels  cut  to take the flood waters away. The concrete survived.  The rest of the day didn't.

Saturday was not so bad but bitterly cold.  Peter and a small team of five worked around the weir garden area, concrete shuttering was removed and the flow of water through the black pipe normalized.

Sunday, a cold start but once into it a nice day to work in, saw four of us prepare a large area ready for Wednesdays concreting by our volunteers who are being supplemented by Walton Homes volunteers this week. A lot of effort was expended trying to work and lay the clay at the bottom of the towpath wall. But clay has a mind of its own, its either too wet or too dry, getting it just so seems hard to achieve.

We were delighted to welcome Emily and friend in the afternoon who together with Peter Buck planted 80 plus tree saplings in the hedgerow gaps.

Hours worked this week, (excluding the Green Team )
 71 hours

Hugh Millington

Photos  Roly,  Christine

November 25th  2015

We were very pleased to welcome Walton Homes Ltd to Tamworth Road. They sent five of their team to help our workparty as well as donating £500 to us. This was all part of their "Granting 30 Wishes" campaign to help local communities, and one of our members asked them to grant her wish to help us rebuild the canal.

Photos Paul Marshall

Left to right:  From Walton Homes: Amy Summerton, Steve Greenwood, Jason Hood, Steve Preece, Wayne Watson, Bill Collombell

From LHCRT: Dr. Richard Henshaw, Chris Aston, Hugh Millington, Bob Williams, Peter Buck

Every one appeared good and early and by 10 am the concrete mixer was already in full swing.  During the day a record length of concrete was laid, about 12 meters,  this brought the concrete  base to within another good days work to the weir,.  The area around the weir itself is very wet and I  fear that we will either have to wait till we have another dry spell or lay a hardcore base before we can concrete the last bit.

Also on the Wednesday we moved clay from the storage area to the far side of the 'big pipe' for re-hydrating, where the Waker roller was put into good use to break down the hard lumps within the clay.

Unfortunately the weekend was poor, both in terms of volunteer turnout and weather.  More mud was shuffled around until it became almost impossible to move around on Saturday.  On Sunday three of us got stuck into the clay ( in more ways than one) and built a good length of the clay platform at the bottom of the towpath wall.

Thanks again to all who helped this week.   Hours worked - 147

P.S.   I hate to have to repeat myself again but this 'big pipe' is very much in the way.


November 25th  2015

Records are there to be broken.  I can't recall any other working day when we had such a large turnout of volunteers.   Our own regular workforce, this week there were seventeen of us, was supplemented by five able bodied men from Walton Homes.

Watch the Wacker in action - short video by Paul Marshall

Photos: Christine Howles

Click for a larger view

Lichfield & Hatherton Canal Restoration Trust

LHCRT  Working Party Blog   November 2015