Crowds flock to Dudbridge Locks Open Days
Over one thousand two hundred visitors took the opportunity to explore the Dudbridge Locks restoration site on Friday and Saturday 11th & 12th October.
Undaunted by damp weather
One hundred & thirty people also ventured down into the turbine chamber of the Dudbridge Hydro Electricity Generating Scheme. (see 3rd photo)
Queues formed early on the wet morning on the first day. The Owen family, pictured right, arrived suitably dressed & welly booted for the experience.
Family groups share memories
Many family groups seized the chance to share memories of Dudbridge with younger relatives and event stewards alike.
One gentleman explained that as a child he had actually 'walked UNDER the lock'!
As fantastical as this claim might have at first appeared, the gentleman was speaking of the culvert that once carried the waters of Ruscombe Brook below the line of the canal and into the River Frome.
Explanation & confirmation
Land & Water Senior Site Manager Chris Spencer explains… “The position of the Ruscombe Brook culvert can be seen by the unusual arched shape in the brickwork of both walls of the lock.
"These arches spread the load of the masonry above the culvert as a guard against collapse. Nowadays the stream runs into the canal and the old culvert has been pumped full of concrete to prevent the lock bottom subsiding.”
Asked to express his views on admitting so many members of the public to such a challenging civil engineering work site Chris responded enthusiastically…
“It was the right decision to have these open days. Land & Water worked closely with Stroud District Council to make this unique opportunity available to so many.
"And we didn’t lose too much construction time either… The brick laying team carried on right until the first visitors came down the scaffolding steps.
“We received a lot of help from the Cotswold Canals Trust volunteers too with the promotion and stewarding of the event."
SDC’s Dave Marshall endorsed this viewpoint saying…
“It really has been a great success. The reaction of the visitors has demonstrated the strength of feeling the community has for the restoration.
Volunteers & organisations help out
Dave Marshall went on to explain that help had come from various sources…
“Safety fencing was loaned by the Cotswold Airport at Kemble. Jackie Harrison from the Wallbridge Lock Visitor Centre Promotion & Presentation Team played an important part as custodian of the ‘Found Artefacts Display.’
"Jackie was talking all day – on both days – to hundreds of people who viewed the collection of items recovered from the mud in the lock chambers. In the case of the World War II steel helmet, many youngsters actually tried it on for size!"
Can you solve the mystery?
Dave added… “By the way, we would really like to trace the helmet’s origin.
"Beneath the rust, the letters 'SB' printed in white can just be deciphered. We have placed it on display in the Wallbridge Lock Visitor Centre. If anyone can explain who once wore the helmet and how it came to be at the bottom of the canal we ask them to call in at the Centre and tell their story.”
Electricity generation enthusiasts
The Dudbridge Hydro Electricity Generating Turbine Chamber was stewarded by another group of CCT volunteers including Andy Berry, Rob Salvin, David McGovern, Keith Tibbitts and Derek Pitt. The team welcomed many enthusiastic locals and notable hydro generation aficianado Graham Fisher MBE.
Graham, a Black Country historian, waterways author & broadcaster travelled down to Stroud specifically to view the installation.
Graham commented, “The Dudbridge Hydro scheme must rank as one of the most exciting developments on the inland waterways of the UK in decades.”