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Cheapside dredging is underway

The Cheapside dredging team are in Stroud

The Land & Water Services Dredging Team returned to Stroud on Monday the 14th March.

Their task is to open up the currently clogged canal channel between Wallbridge Upper Lock and Dr Newtons Way Bridge.

Mobilisation Day at ‘Stroud Town Wharf’

Land & Water's Contract Engineer Mike Hill has been busy overseeing the arrival of the dredging machinery and its supporting equipment at the long vacant Cheapside site.
The list of hardware, brought to Stroud from the company headquarters in Surrey, includes a staff welfare unit, equipment storage unit, long reach excavators, a tracked dumper and a large load of eucalyptus timber. This was then followed by an even larger load of very thick wooden planking.

Fish rescue

As this was occurring the canal was dammed at Dr Newtons Way Road Bridge.

The paddles on Wallbridge Upper Lock were lifted and the Fish Rescue Team swung into action.

Barry Mole of Stroud and District Anglers explained, “The club Chairman, Mike Casey, and I were there with the Land & Water people all day on Monday.

"That reach has a good number of quality fish. John Pontefract from Stroud District Council raised the paddles on the lock and a number of Roach did the wise thing and made for the lower pound.

"We did have one reluctant resident, a small Jack Pike. He repeatedly headed back upstream but eventually decided to follow the others.”

Enabling works & towpath closure

Mike Hill commented, “There is a lot to do before we actually start moving the muck about. We have been creating a stone ramp that will enable the vehicles to enter and exit the channel.

“The big planks are what we refer to as machinery mats. Basically we have to construct a timber causeway on which the excavators and dump truck will move along the length of the channel. The towpath closure fences have been installed to keep people safe while that is happening.”

Heavy timber

Asked why a load of what appeared to be telegraph poles had been delivered to the site, Mike went on to explain that these were in fact eighty eucalyptus poles. Eucalyptus is a hard and heavy timber much used in construction projects around the world.

“That is only part of the delivery actually. We need 160 of those for this job. They will form the piling necessary to stabilise the ground above the channel. They will be cut in half and one end will be sharpened to a point to enable them to be driven into the ground at the toe, (bottom edge) of the slope. This will stabilise both areas where landslips have occurred in the recent past”

Agreeing that pencil sharpeners did not come that large Mike explained that his team would be using chain saws to do the job!

Stroud District Council Project

The Cheapside Dredging project has been commissioned by Stroud District Council. Canal Project Manager Dave Marshall commented, “SDC is pleased to be working again with Land & Water Services on Stroud's canal restoration.

“Both organisations understand how the local people have come to rely on the towpath as a traffic free route whilst they go about their business and leisure pursuits.

"This essential canal dredging work will involve some very large, heavy and powerful 'traffic' working close to the towpath for the next month or so.

“However, at this stage, we hope to have the towpath route opened up for the Easter Holiday walkers. There should be some interesting changes for the walkers to see.

"The towpath will be closed again after the holiday for the job to reach its conclusion.”

Dave Marshall explained that thanks are due to Newland Homes and the current owners of the site for allowing Land & Water Services to use the site as a base for the dredging and piling operation.

Watch this space for further updates