Autumn update from SDC's Dave Marshall
A look back at what has happened during the summer and a look forward to what will be dealt with next.
Browns Boutique Hair Salon, the first commercial premises on Central Square, Ebley Wharf opened on 1st November. The adjacent unit is likely to become a convenience store.
Moving on from haircuts to heritage… Volunteers have finished restoring the circular spill weir at Bridge House, Ebley.
Despite poor weather, the public open days were a fantastic success, with around 1300 people taking the opportunity to walk inside a lock.
A new – and popular – feature was a ‘Finds Table’ featuring items found in the canal. These ranged from a bicycle to a WWII steel helmet.
Click here or on the first photo to see a larger picture of the artefacts.
Work on the upper lock, known locally as Foundry Lock, is complete. Volunteers have completed installation of the gate and ground paddle gear.
Local engineering expertise
The paddle gear is manufactured by local companies, DM Foundries & Truturn Engineering. The timber jackposts upon which the paddle gear is mounted are made at Cotswold Canals Trust’s Eastern Depot workshop near Cricklade.
Lower lock – low grade old brickwork
The brickwork in the lower lock (a.k.a. Dudbridge Lock) has been found to be in a worse condition than expected.
This is due to the lock having originally been constructed in stone, with the upper parts later refaced with brick.
Unfortunately, the brickwork had not been adequately tied back to the stone behind.
Completed by Christmas
Work is expected to be completed in early December, to include hanging the gates. The contractor, Land & Water, expects to be off site by Christmas. A recent issue which has manifested itself is that the bypass culvert, installed last year, appears to be leaking into the lock. If further investigations confirm this, the issue will be raised with the contractor (Galliford–Try)
Wallbridge Lower Lock
After helpful discussions with the Environment Agency, we plan to invite tenders for refurbishment of the lock, to include a fish pass. Doing so will pin down the cost of the fish pass, which may prove to be affordable. If tenders are over budget, we can take a view on whether to continue with the fish pass, or just include some form of provision for eels – which is a statutory requirement. Refurbishment work would take place between May and October next year, once McCarthy & Stone have constructed their retaining wall. We are also considering constructing the bypass channel/fish pass ahead of the main lock refurbishment, which would take some pressure off the timescales.
Hydro Electricity Generation
The hydroelectric turbine has been working well, especially with the recent heavy rain. Unfortunately, the increased flow of water has caused a couple of problems.
The silt in the canal between Wallbridge Upper Lock and Dr Newtons Way Bridge was found to be contaminated with hydrocarbons, possibly due to the land above – which slipped into the canal – being previously used as a coal yard. SDC requested stringent retesting of the samples.
Tenders for a new bridge and the retaining wall above the lock have come in above the available budget. We are looking at ways of reducing the cost. One possible way forward is to install lock gates without balance beams, as this would require much smaller retaining walls. We are also producing our own designs for retaining the slope, using surplus ‘porcupine’ blocks left over from work at Dudbridge. Early indications are that this design could be built at a much lower cost.
The Tuesday group has been erecting Dog Control Zone notices along the towpath, whilst the Thursday group has been laying towpath topping at Capels Mill, Ham Mill and Bagpath Bridge.
On 9th – 10th November, around 100 Waterway Recovery Group volunteers held their annual reunion 'Bonfire Bash’ at Brimscombe Port. Tasks included tree clearance at Upper Mills, tidying up at Wallbridge and landscaping at Griffins Mill.
And finally… Twitter
As at todays date we now have 1,500 users following the latest canal news on @cotswoldcanals
Will you start the trend towards 1,600?