Ham Mill Lock Restoration – Second Report

Progress report by Les Morris

Cotswold Canals Trust Western Depot Volunteers have commenced the preparatory work to enable them to restore Ham Mill Lock near Thrupp. At the start of operations, a number of fish were noticed in the lock. Operations were stopped and the assistance of Stroud Angling club sought. Some 40lb of fish were removed from the lock and safely relocated.

History

Ham Mill Lock was built almost 230 years ago to the same measurements as those on the Stroudwater at around 74ft x 15ft 6in. It raised the canal level by 9 feet. The locks from the Severn to Brimscombe were built to accommodate Trows (Severn sailing boats). A large trans-shipment facility was built at Brimscombe Port because the locks from there to the Thames were built to a smaller gauge to suit Thames boats. The canal fell into disrepair with this section being officially abandoned in 1933.

Progress this week

Local contractor John Cutter and his team have been on site for several days this week clearing the lock chamber. The first day was spent preparing the lock side for the long-reach digger and improving the access for the lorry used to carry away the silt. Seventeen lorry loads of silt, each weighing between 17 and 18 tonnes, were removed over the course of Thursday and Friday. A total of about 300 tonnes of silt was removed to an approved tipping site. The remains of the lower lock gates were also removed. Some of the timber is in remarkably good condition, considering the length of time it has been there.

Stolen safes recovered

A safe, containing still legible paperwork, was lifted from the mud last week to be taken away by the police. On Thursday, the excavator lifted out another safe. This one was found to contain boxes of ammunition, pictured right. The Police Firearms Unit attended promptly and removed 650 rounds of .22 calibre ammunition. The prompt action and removal meant that silt removal continued with minimal delay. This task was completed at about 3.00 pm on Friday.

Click on the images to view larger versions

Click here to view Mike Gallagher's Ham Mill Album

High level skills recognised

Volunteer team leader Les Morris commented… “Considering the amount of journeys and the amount of silt removed, there was remarkably little mess on the site and almost no spillage onto the road – a tribute to the skill of the excavator operators and the driver.”

Work next week will involve pumping out the rest of the watery silt which remains to expose the base of the lock, before scaffolding is erected to allow repair of the lock walls.