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Dredging Progress Report

History made again

Four work boats made the journey from Wallbridge Lower Lock to Bowbridge Lock and beyond on Monday 11th & Wednesday 13th December 2017.

The 2017 boats were…

‘Dredger No. 5’ (also known as ‘Augustus Gloop’) propelled by the Stroud Valleys Canal Company (SVCC) workboat ‘Wookey Hole’ operating in tandem with ‘Annette II’. The flotilla also included the SVCC mud hopper ‘Weft’.

Training & Teamwork

Training and teamwork paid off on the first leg of the trip. The steerers of the two motorised boats Andrew Rendell on ‘Annette II’ and former merchant seaman Peter Snelson on ‘Wookey Hole’ were deftly assisted by Bob Hallam in the dredger cabin. 

Bob provided directional adjustments by applying gentle nudges with the dredging arm.
He also used the bucket to deal with a build-up of silt inside the lower gates of Wallbridge Upper Lock.

Onward eastbound

Following hot drinks and biscuits provided by the Visitor Centre Staff at Wallbridge the flotilla moved on to Bowbridge Lock.
The lateness of the hour meant that the dredger, ‘Wookey Hole’ and ‘Annette II’ all overnighted in the empty lock while ‘Weft‘ was secured just outside.
On Wednesday 13th December, the water in the pound above Bowbridge Lock was sufficient to move the dredger and Annette II up through the lock and into the pound above. ‘Wookey Hole’ then took ‘Weft‘ in tow and brought it safely alongside for the two vessels to pass through the lock together.

The dredger cleared a passage through the encroached reed bed.
This new channel then allowed the dredger to move further into the pound to be joined by mud hopper ‘Weft’.

Shared resources & home comforts

Les Morris and other members of the ‘Dry Dredging Team’, unable to use their tracked excavators due to the ice and snow that day, assisted the dredger and tug boats  through Bowbridge Lock.

Les Morris explains… “The term ‘Dry Dredging Team’ refers to the fact its members have been trained in the use of tracked excavators operating from land adjacent to the channel. We will now be working alongside the ‘Wet Dredging Team’… meaning those on the boats.

“I must say we have enjoyed the facilities the boats provide. A very wet and cold day was made more pleasant by the hot mince pies and hot drinks prepared on the solid fuel stoves down in the cabins of the work-boats.

Hot Mince Pie sharing time

“This team work will continue as ‘Dredger No. 5’ and mud hopper ‘Weft’ go on to clear the 300 metres between Bowbridge Lock and Stanton’s Bridge.
The mud-hopper ‘Weft’ will carry the dredged material along the pound to be unloaded by the ‘Dry Dredging Team’ excavators on the offside bank.”

Picture from the past — Same place, same job
Hand operated Spoon Dredger 1911
Note the mooring rope secured to the milestone

This image appears in The Thames & Severn Canal History & Guide by David Viner
Photograph from the Michael Ware Collection courtesy of Mrs. E. Temple Thurston
E. Temple-Thurston was the author of ‘The Flower of Gloster’ published 1911

Future Plans

The “Dry Dredging Team” and the “Wet Dredging Team” will continue working together to complete the clearance of the whole pound between Bowbridge Lock and Griffin’s Mill Lock. Wet Dredging Team Leader Andrew Rendell explains…

“The Dry Dredging team have been using two excavators operating from the offside bank to clear the 330 metres between Stanton’s Bridge and Griffin’s Mill Lock. The material has been applied to the ground along the canal. We are grateful to the landowner Sean Sutton, for giving us access and dredging disposal facilities on his land. There are parts of the canal, near to the towpath, that even the long-reach excavator has been unable to reach. This stretch will therefore be cleared by Dredger No. 5 working with mud hopper Weft. The mud hopper will then be unloaded by the excavators. The hope is that by the end of March the canal will be navigable as far as Griffin’s Mill Lock. Shortly after that the next goal will be the pound above Ham Mill Lock.”

Find out more

Click here to view October Silt Removal Report 

See more photos

Click here to view CCT Photographer Mike Gallagher’s record of the first leg of the voyage

Click here to see Mike’ record of the Bowbridge Lock stage of the action

Time to spare and Energy to Share

The dredging project has been made possible by volunteers working in teams over a long period of time.

The Tuesday & Thursday Group organised and led by Stroud District Council
have been largely responsible for the work at Wallbridge Lower Lock.

The Cotswold Canals Trust Monday and Wednesday Team
are now carrying out the channel maintenance work.

Click here to find out more about becoming involved