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Ryeford Causeway Restoration Report

Towpath Upgrade at Ryeford

Stroud District Council Volunteers are continuing to upgrade the towpath along the narrow causeway between the Stroudwater Navigation channel and the river leat near Stonehouse.
The towpath team are using the well proven technique of Terram geotextile laid between wooden edging boards. Layers of reclaimed masonry aggregate are raked and tamped into place on the geotextile. The surface is created by the final layer of 3mm to dust.
SDC Team leader Jon Pontefract explained, “We install the edging boards to give us a final level to fill up to wherever possible. This sometimes needs to have some gaps stopped up with old bricks from other works — nothing goes to waste on this job. We have found that laying and raking the top surface soon provides a good smooth easily drained surface. We get a lot of very positive comments from local users who can’t wait to get back on here with their prams, pushchairs, wheel chairs, mobility buggies and bicycles. We are creating a wider, firmer and smoother surface for all users here.”

Historic water level control restored

Cotswold Canals Trust (CCT) Western Depot volunteers have simultaneously reconstructed two sets of sluice gates that control the flow and depth of the leat.

(Definition of Leat — noun) Trench or ditch conveying water to a mill wheel)

The ‘before & after’ view of one of the sluices

The sluice repair team, led by Rob Ambury, took the opportunity of low water levels to replace two sets of failed sluices that once controlled the flow of water into the waterwheels that powered the mills at Ryeford. The variable water  levels in the leat also assisted in maintaining the depth of water in the canal channel through ‘flap valve pipes’ that run beneath the towpath.

The replacement for the failed wooden sluices was researched and designed by CCT Water Engineer John Beatty. John’s solution consisted of a heavy duty, recycled plastic, ‘planking’ system mounted in new galvanized steel frames.

The plastic planking and steel frames are produced by Stroud based businesses, British Polythene Industries and A.D. Taylor respectively.

CCT Western Depot volunteers Will Foster and his colleagues cut, drilled and assembled the units to ensure a watertight fit.

Time limitations — deadline met

Rob Ambury explains… “We had just one week to remove and repair both sets of sluice gates. The Environment Agency set this tight time limit based upon the fish spawning season.

“We attached the steel frames to the lifting mechanism by lowering them into place manually by rope whilst three of us bolted them in place. The job was completed late in the afternoon on the day of the deadline.”

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