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Dudbridge Locks Restoration

Dudbridge Locks Restoration Report No.1 – 13.08.13

Preparation work for the restoration of Dudbridge and Foundry Lock is moving ahead at a pace. The first stage has been to undo the flood relief scheme work carried out on the channel in the 1950s. Some 1,200 tonnes of silt, stone and concrete has been removed.

Let’s look at what happened & why…

The Stroudwater Canal operated as a cargo carrying navigation until 1941 when traffic of all kinds effectively ceased.

The canal was abandoned by Act of Parliament in 1954.

The canal channel was then narrowed by installing Cotswold stone walls along each side to form part of a flood relief scheme for Stroud.

That scheme diverted Slad Brook and Painswick Stream into the canal bed to prevent their waters flowing into the River Frome in the base of

Concrete dams were also placed across the locks at Dudbridge.

Last week's interim report, with photographs by Robert Paget, showed the removal of the stone walls.

That stone has been recycled to form plant haulage ways through the site. the valley.

Concrete dams chiselled away

Mike Gallagher’s first photo shows the pneumatic drill chipping away at one of the dams.

This one is at the top of Dudbridge Lock. Again the resultant rubble is re-used to form ramps and roadways through the site.

Invert revealed

The second picture shows Land & Water Project Manager Chris Spencer at the head of Foundry Lock. 

The brick invert (curved floor) of the lock has been revealed for the first time in at least sixty years. Dudbridge Lock's invert is particularly impressive. It is built in stone. 

An enthusiastic engineer

Chris Spencer is passionate about the structures and artefacts his restoration work reveals. He pointed to the grey sludge on the channel bottom and announced…

“We are right down at the bottom… that’s 1700’s clay that is!

"They would often lay that stuff to a depth of three or four feet thick”

Ancient elm

Photo three shows that a ground paddle hole complete with its ancient elm paddle board and lifting bar has also been revealed. Chris’s explanation of the paddle hole and elm paddle was similarly enthusiastic… “Think how long ago that was built and put in there eh?”

Click hereto view the full set of photos taken by
CCT's Mike Gallagher
Bountiful bricks

At the time of our visit a significant number of ancient loose bricks were to be seen lying in the clay and around the lock chambers.

Chris explained that every brick is recovered, cleaned and stacked for future use on the locks.“Getting bricks of this size and quality is a long and expensive business these days so we use whatever we can recover. Our mission is to save every one that can be saved…It’s only right really.”

A theme can be seen

Recycling is a real theme at Dudbridge.

The lower lock’s proximity to Dudbridge Road Bridge has clearly provided an effective hurling point from which an impressive amount of variously shaped metal has found its way into the water. Unsurprisingly all the old bicycles, shopping trolleys and car wheels are recovered, hosed down and weighed in at the local scrap merchant.

Next step… the scaffolding

The self-seeded saplings, brambles and other vegetation will now be cleared from the walls of the lock chambers. This will soon allow the bricklayer’s scaffolding to be installed.

A stranded whale?

An unusual sight is to be seen at the foot of Dudbridge Lock. What at first glance appears to be a stranded whale is actually a novel method of creating a dam to hold canal water back from the work area.

That canal water is essentially held back by canal water… a large black plastic bag full of water in fact! This is known in the civil engineering business as an Aqua Dam.

It has been placed between the concrete sides of the canal and pumped full of water. The water in the lock chamber is then pumped over it into the canal… but not until that has been filtered to remove suspended silt. So, even the water is cleaned & recycled by Land & Water’s caring team of waterway restorers.

Watch this space for the next report. In the meantime feel free to take a grandstand view from the parapet of the Dudbridge Road Bridge.