ENews 2014-03

June 5th 2014
 
Hello and welcome to ENews 2014-03. As existing readers will be aware this is only the third edition this year, so it would be an opportune moment to welcome those of you who are reading ENews for the first time.
 
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The headlines for this issue:-
 
More contracts are out on Phase 1A
Work will continue apace
The stretch of canal by the main road
Has working locks once more in place.
At the Pageant that's planned for Saul Junction,  
There could be a Craft Stall to run.  
The following month in September,   
A Quiz Night at Fromebridge – such fun!
Stroud DC has sent out its update
On whats going on with 1A
News of the 1B deferrment
Arrived very late in the day.
 
Now, please read on for the stories behind those headlines.
 
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COUNCIL EXPANDS CONTRACTS
 
Work to restore a further length of the Cotswold Canals will begin later this month, Stroud District Council has announced.
 
The council has awarded a £390,000 contract to Alun Griffiths Ltd to dredge and widen 120m of the Thames & Severn Canal above Wallbridge Lower Lock. The contract includes construction of a bypass channel to carry the flow of Slad Brook around the lock and its design will allow fish and eels to easily migrate upstream.
 
Griffiths expect to begin setting up their site on 9th June. The company is well-versed with the canal project, having restored Ryeford Double Locks and built 330m of new canal at Capel’s Mill.
 
Stroud District Council has also awarded a £110,000 contract to Land & Water Services for the dredging of 4500 tonnes of material from the canal below Wallbridge Lower Lock. The company expects to begin work here during July. In the meantime, it is good to see that McCarthy & Stone is making good progress with the bored piled wall, necessary to retain their site overlooking the lock.
 
A third contract valued at £170,000 has been let to Cheltenham based Britannia Construction. This should see the lock itself restored early in 2015, once the other work has been completed. The lock fell into disuse in the 1930s.
 
Although the canal restoration project is mainly funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Stroud District Council, the work at Wallbridge has been assisted by a generous £100,000 grant from the Veolia Environmental Trust as reported in ENews 2014-01.
 
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NOT JUST A PRETTY VIEW….
 
You know the picturesque views of the Stroudwater Navigation where it runs alongside the A419 at Eastington?
 
Well, the stretch from Pike Lock eastwards through both Blunder and Newtown Locks is navigable again, thanks to the long-term efforts of the Trust's Western Depot volunteers.
 
Four years or so ago the heel post of one of the Blunder Lock top gates disintegrated, rendering the lock unusable. At Newtown Lock both top paddles had detached themselves from the paddle racks over time, too.
 
Volunteers have modified and refurbished a set of old Thames lock gates to replace the top gates at Blunder Lock, installed new CCT designed paddle gear and undertaken re-pointing work at Newtown Lock. The Stroud Valleys Canal Company arranged for a new set of bottom gates to be installed at Blunder Lock.
 
All we need now are some boat movements! In the short term it is to be hoped that the recently acquired weed harvester can be put to work on this section for crew training purposes if nothing else, as well as doing what it was designed for – once some significant teething problems have been overcome. A Maintenance Team has just been established that will be steered by Martin Gray.
 
Whilst on the subject of the weed harvester, Ian Moody would like to thank all those of you who so generously responded to his appeal for equipment contained in ENews 2014-02 back in March.
 
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WATTS OCCURIN'
 
Staunch CCT volunteer Anna Watts is hoping to run a Craft Stall at the IWA Saul Pageant, being held over the weekend of the 23rd – 25th August. She is appealing for donations for the stall and some examples of what she's after are:
 
– Knitted and sewn items
– Wood and metal work
– Ceramic and pottery items
– Home-made wines, pickles, jams etc
 
In fact anything really as long as it is home crafted and/or homemade.
 
Items can be delivered to Western Depot, Eastington on a Monday or Wednesday between 9am and 3pm or to Wallbridge Visitor Centre, Stroud any morning between 10am and 1pm (but only if/when the green flag is flying, please). All proceeds will go to the Cotswold Canals Trust.
 
Volunteers to staff the stall throughout the Pageant are also being sought. Please contact Anna on 07800581167 or Alan Watts on 07976617983 if you can help or for more information.
 
To find out about the Pageant itself please visit www.waterways.org.uk/festival
 
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SEPTEMBER STROUDWATER SESSION
 
Advance notice for the next "Stroudwater Session" meeting, scheduled to take place on Tuesday 9th September at Fromebridge Mill, Whitminster from 19:30.
 
CCT Chairman Jack Telling will be Master of Ceremonies for a Quiz Night. The water-based quiz will be open to teams of four people and the entry fee for each Team will be £10.
 
A number of teams, including ones from the Inland Waterways Association, Canal & River Trust and The Herefordshire & Gloucestershire Canal Trust, are expected to attend.
 
The Trust's Volunteer Engagement Director Polly Fothergill will have more information available shortly, in the meantime an email to people@cotswoldcanals.com to register your interest should suffice.
 
Tables will
also be available for other teams on the night…………..unless pre-booked demand for tables outstrips space availability, that is.
 
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SDC MONTHLY UPDATES
 
My thanks as usual to Stroud District Council's Dave Marshall for his informative updates on progress with Phase 1A. The following is an amalgam of his last 2 issues:
 
Dudbridge: Volunteers continue to do a superb job here. They have been busy laying concrete – mainly on the off side of the canal, together with new brick lock quadrants.
With the recent dry weather, falling water levels have revealed substantial damage to the bypass channel, which carries river water around the upper lock. Many of the concrete blocks lining the channel have been ripped up, causing the concrete fish pass to be undermined. This damage was caused by high flows during the winter. As the channel was intended to accommodate a 1 in 100 year flood, we are currently examining whether the fault lies with design or construction. As well as the damage to the bypass channel, a further problem has come to light. Water has displaced around 100 bricks from the bottom of the canal (the ‘invert’). These were not replaced during the recent refurbishment work and the cause is not clear. Meanwhile, investigations are underway to establish the exact cause of the damage to the bypass.  
 
Cheapside: A planning application is being drawn up for the proposed use of a textile membrane to edge the canal, with dredged material then deposited behind. This will not be submitted until the proposal has been reviewed by our project partners in the Cotswold Canals Trust and the Stroud Valleys Canal Company. As it will involve draining the canal between Dr Newton’s Way and Wallbridge, we would rather keep the canal in water for the summer visitor season and then drain it in the autumn.
 
Capels Mill: Three temporary sculptures are currently sited IN the canal as part of the annual Stroud Site Festival. They will be joined in the next couple of weeks by the large sculpture, designed by local artist Sam Freeman, winner of the canal ‘Search for a Sculptor’ competition. The sculpture is now taking shape at Pangolin Editions, who have sponsored the competition to the tune of £12500. The sculpture will be sited once our volunteers have constructed the necessary 10 concrete pads high on the bank overlooking the canal and railway viaduct.
 
Bowbridge: Work on building the retaining wall below the vets’ surgery is complete. Unfortunately, a section of old wharf wall above the lock on the towpath side collapsed recently and this necessitated the closure of the towpath on safety grounds. It had been noticed that the wall had no foundation and preparations were underway to rebuild it on a concrete foundation. This will still take place, but with a delay while the collapsed material is removed. In the meantime, volunteers from the Waterway Recovery Group have begun clearance work on the lock and installed stop plank grooves.
 
Living Waterway Awards: We submitted 6 award applications, with 5 shortlisted. Judging took place last week. We’ll be holding our breath until September, when the winners will be announced at a ceremony in Leeds.
The Living Waterway Awards replace the Waterway Renaissance Awards, in which the Cotswold Canals project has been singularly successful in the last 3 years.
 
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BREAKING NEWS – Building a better HLF Bid.
 
This just in from Val Kirby, Trust Councillor behind the planning for the Phase 1B bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund:
 
Last night CCT Council agreed to postpone submitting a bid to the Heritage Lottery Fund for the restoration of the next stage of the Cotswold Canals until November 2015. Many of you already know that CCT is the lead partner in the next stage, from Saul Junction to Stonehouse. This stage (usually referred to as Phase 1B) will connect the restored canal to the national navigable waterways network, so you can understand how important it is.
It's only 6 km (4 miles) long), but it is is going to be very expensive.
The canal needs new bridges at Walk Bridge near Saul, a new canal channel next to the River Frome under the M5, two new bridges under the A 38 and a new bridge under the main north-south railway line. Then there is a whole 'missing mile' where a new canal channel will have to be dug. This is all in addition to restoring locks, bridges, landing stages, towpaths and the canal itself, where these already exist.
 
A team of CCT members and others has been working on a bid to the HLF since June 2013. Until recently we were working towards submitting it in November this year. But at the beginning of May the HLF strongly recommended that we defer the bid for a year, and last night (4 June) CCT Council agreed. There are several reasons for this. One is that the restoration of the section from Stonehouse to east of Bowbridge (Phase 1A) must be substantially complete before our bid goes in. Another is that our bid for 1B must be transparently based on an evaluation of 1A, which we will do in partnership with Stroud District Council. But the biggest reason is that 1B, which will be one of the most expensive HLF funded projects in the country, must have the best possible bid. It goes without saying that the engineering details must be absolutely right and the our plans to manage the canal once it is open must be built on sound business and environmentally sustainable principles. But we must also show how local communities, including people of all ages, interests and abilities, will be actively involved. The natural environment must benefit as well as the cultural heritage. We must show how the restoration of the canal will have positive impacts on the local economy, prosperity and peoples wellbeing. And we will need several million pounds of match funding. It will take time to do all this really well.
 
Val Kirby chairs the Phase 1B group. She would very much like to hear from anyone who is able to volunteer time to help with fundraising and/or publicity. Val will write regular updates for e-news from now on, to keep everyone up to date. Please contact Val at valgkirby@gmail.com (don't miss the 'g' out – if you do your message will go to another Val Kirby somewhere in the USA!).
 
(Ends)
 
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FORTHCOMING EVENTS
 
For further information (including contact details) about any items marked by an asterisk, please go to www.cct.teamconnect.org.uk and the Message Boards that can be found on the Activities and Rosters page. To b
ecome a registered volunteer follow the Register Me Now link.
 
Mondays and Wednesdays from 09:00*: Maintenance activity at Western Depot Eastington.
Tuesdays and Thursdays from 09:00*: Maintenance activity at Eastern Depot Eisey.
Tuesdays from 10:00: Work Parties at Griffins Mill Lock Thursdays from 10:00: Introductory volunteer sessions aimed at those new to volunteering. Meet Wallbridge Visitor Centre. Existing CCT volunteers more than welcome.
Thursdays from 17:00: Work Parties Eisey area*
 
JUNE
10th – Noggin 'n' Natter at the Alehouse Stroud from 19:30
18th – Eastern Branch meeting Trout Inn Lechlade from 19:30
21st – Capella Singers concert at St Cyrs Church Stonehouse, 18:15. See www.cotswoldcanals.com/pages/posts/stroudwater-music-647.php
24th – Construction Action Group Meeting at Brimscombe Port, 19:30
 
JULY
8th – Noggin 'n' Natter at the Alehouse Stroud from 19:30
16th – Eastern Branch meeting Trout Inn Lechlade from 19:30
22nd – Construction Action Group Meeting at Down Ampney Village Hall, 19:30
 
 
AUGUST
12th – Noggin 'n' Natter at the Alehouse Stroud from 19:30
20th – Eastern Branch meeting Trout Inn Lechlade from 19:30
23rd/25th – Saul Waterways Pageant at Saul Junction. IWA event, see www.waterways.org.uk/festival
26th – Construction Action Group Meeting at Brimscombe Port, 19:30
 
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If you have any item you consider newsworthy then please send me an email, although I would ask you to bear in mind that I always look for a connection with the Stroudwater, Thames and Severn or the CCT before considering any article for publication.
 
Any and all feedback – preferably good, but bad as well – is more than welcome.
 
PLEASE NOTE. We keep your email address on an electronic database for the sole purpose of contacting you in this way. We will never pass it on to any third party.
 
David Pagett
Editor, ENews