Canal Project Latest
An overview from Dave Marshall, SDC's Canal Partnership Manager
REACH, the Cheltenham based Training Company supervising persons on Community Service orders, recently began work in earnest to raise the towpath between Hilly Orchard and Dudbridge Bridge.
This will be achieved re-routing the path onto the higher ground slightly away from the canal. The intention is to solve the problem of the existing towpath being flooded when river flow causes the canal level to rise during periods of wet weather.
Work here is virtually complete, though it has inevitably been delayed by high water levels. As a result, the contractors are now expected to be off-site at the end of this month.
Before then, minor works to the channel and the wall above the hydro-electric chamber outlet need to be completed.
All material from the old Marling School rugby field has now been removed; topsoil and grass seed will be applied when the weather permits.
Potential contractors for the lock refurbishment are now going through the pre-qualification process, preparatory to tenders being invited during February.
Near Dudbridge Road, trial holes are being dug to exactly locate the gas main. This will enable a new flood wall to be built.
The new swing bridge is now fully serviceable, having had initial problems with flood water affecting the electrics. The new brick wall behind the control cabinet is virtually complete.
All but one of the fifty-three ground anchors have now been installed, tested, stressed and tied in.
A layer of gravel 25-30m below ground level is causing problems with the installation of the final anchor.
Around half of the channel west of the railway viaduct has now been excavated and the resulting channel allowed to fill with water. Once again, work has been delayed by the wet weather. Material from the excavation is being taken away, as there is insufficient room to keep it on site.
Volunteers from the Tuesday and Thursday groups are now busy upgrading the towpath at Bowbridge Lock. They will be working eastwards towards Stantons Bridge and ultimately Ham Mill Lock.
Griffins Mill Lock
Cotswold Canals Trust volunteers have finished rebuilding the offside wall and are now focusing on removing defective brickwork from the towpath side.
The team have also installed stop plank grooves. Work here has been delayed by high water levels.
As more of the canal is restored, the focus shifts more towards maintenance.
Cotswold Canals Trust volunteers are using the maintenance boat – Wookey Hole – every Monday and Wednesday to undertake maintenance tasks and inspect the canal for issues which may not be visible from the towpath.
Meanwhile, a Maintenance Plan is being drawn up for completion by the end of February. Until restoration reaches the point where the canal generates its own income, there will be a need to involve other bodies in this, such as town/parish councils and angling clubs.
CCT has now purchased a trip boat, capable of carrying 10 passengers and two crew. The boat is now being repainted and is expected to take to the water in early March, with passenger services from Ebley Mill beginning a couple of months later.
Trips of around 20 minutes will be on offer and the boat will also be available for private party charters such as corporate entertainment.
One third of the cost has already been raised, thanks to a grant from Stroud District Council and a co-sponsorship agreement with Alun Griffiths Construction.
Volunteers to help run the boat are now being sought.
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