Capels Mill Report

Whats Occurring at Capels Mill

It has been a busy couple of weeks at Capels Mill for contractors Alun Griffiths of Abergavenny.

The work-site accommodation has been installed and earth moving machinery has arrived and commenced work.

The Team

The team is led by Dr. Simon Dunn, a graduate of Cardiff University.

Simon’s team of nine operatives on site includes two sets of brothers and a father & son. Welsh dragon flags flying from Griffths’ fleet of excavation vehicles proudly signify the driver’s origins.

Security Measures

When not at work the 21 & 13 tonne excavators and 25 tonne dump truck are protected by a sophisticated closed circuit TV security system. Part of this equipment has the appearance of a sci-fi film character. Sound and motion sensors cause its robot like head to swivel and focus its camera eyes on the cause of the site intrusion.

An Overview of what is to occur

15,000 cubic metres of material will be excavated to re-route the canal through another arch of the viaduct.

The total length of the new route is around 325 metres, of which 110 metres is edged with sheet piling. The bottom of the canal will be lined with clay. This will provide a water depth of 1.7 metres.

183 metres will be constructed in contiguous cored concrete piles to provide a retaining wall. Those piles will range in length from 9 metres to 15 metres.

The concrete lined channel will be supported by 208 screw piles to depth of 4 metres.

That channel will then join the original line of the canal to the East of the viaduct. Landscaping, wildlife habitats and foot paths will complete the job.

Environmental Considerations

Simon described how closely his company works with the Environment Agency.

One result of that liaison is that the river Frome is bordered by fine fabric silt barriers. These 3 feet high mini fences prevent silt leaching into the river from the work site.

Another interesting fenced enclosure protects an area of rare orchids.

He went on to explain that the intention is that all excavated earth will remain on site to be used at the landscaping stage.

Current work

As well as hauling roads and piling rig bases, the canal bed beneath Dr Newton’s Way Bridge is being excavated to receive a concrete base. This will provide the datum point from which the line and level of the canal will run through the site from west to east.

This excavation work has revealed a fast flowing spring. This will be seen as an asset when the canal requires water.

At the moment however it has necessitated the installation of no less than three pumps to move the water away from the works.

A brief history of the site

Capels Mill is named after the owner of an 1800’s woollen mill powered by the fast flowing River Frome.

The Thames & Severn Canal was constructed alongside the Frome in the 1780’s.

Pictured right – the canal in former days.

In 1844 a railway viaduct spanned the valley and the canal. In the 1970’s the area was used as a landfill site.

In the 1980’s Stroud’s bypass, Dr Newton’s Way, was built on the line of the canal at this point.

And now… in 2012 the canal is under reconstruction!