Registered Charity No. 702429
WORKING PARTIES
NEWS 2007

LICHFIELD CANAL

Work Party News
So much has happened in a short time that it would bore readers to give a blow-by-blow account. Visiting volunteers from wrg Forestry, North West and London, plus the Newbury Working Party put in four very valuable week-ends from January to March. Gangs transformed Tamworth Road from a building site to an approximation of a real canal, complete with lock gates. Local residents are amazed at the difference and come in growing numbers to find out what is going on and to enjoy the better environment.

Tree-felling, earth-moving, brick-laying, landscaping, lock gate installation, bridgebuilding, bywash investigation, demolition of an unwanted garage, enabling works for towpath wall construction . . . the list goes on. There seems to be nothing they can’t do! The Trust is greatly indebted to everyone who came to help. And that’s just the visitors.

Our own small restoration team are hardly off-duty these days. Ground work, pathways, brick repairs, partial reconstruction of the tail of Lock 24 are all testament to their skill and dedication. The old lock gates donated by British Waterways now make a static statement that the Lichfield Canal really is here!

Flowers are blooming everywhere, thanks to the Green Team led by Mike Battisson. His drive for a pre-funded professional landscape study is moving ahead. Stefan Szulc and John Langley have assisted Mike Smith with refining plans for removal of the land drain which would pave the way for bringing a half-mile section back into water. These are invisible “site works” for the future.

“Canals in the Community” is our underlying theme to involve schools in “Access and Learning”. Great Barr Science College has a partnership arrangement with the Trust to enable teenagers to gain hands-on experience in countryside management.

In March, the first two bus-loads commenced a series of work party visits to the Darnford site, led by Andrew Williams, Head of Environmental Sciences. This has whetted the appetite of King Edward VI School in Lichfield to bring pupils out of the classroom to learn more about their environs as part of Key Stage studies. Let us hope that future generations will learn to appreciate what the canals have been and how they can be better used than as wasteful dumping grounds.


wrg North West, landscaping the off-side to Pound 25
 
wrg North West installing static gates on Lock 24.

Newbury Working Party unearthing former bywash to Lock 25
 
Newbury Working Party - enabling work for rebuilding towpath wall in Pound 27

London WRG clearing the old garage off the bywash to Lock 26
 
Temporary footbridge and landscaping at Lock 25
(photos by Bob Williams)

Urgent progress was made at Tamworth Road through the winter weeks, laying down 120 metres of concrete foundation to rebuild the towpath wall along part of Pound 27 of the Lichfield Canal. Then we have a trick up our sleeve for rapid construction to form a suitable “towpath” for the Borrowcop Locks Canal Park. Considerable help came from waterway recovery group North West volunteers in the second week-end of December, braving appalling weather for this work and clearing a large area of woodland where a public path will connect with the main road.

But it’s our own team, led by Brian Davis whose career experience in construction site work is invaluable, who have excelled in translating theoretical advice and ground conditions into real achievement. The Directors thank the other regulars Barry, Keith, Clive, Simon, Alan, Adrian, George, Jim, Neil for their efforts, often joined by others when they can make it.

Additionally, we are very pleased that John Horton (the Trust’s former Lichfield Canal Project Director) took up the challenge of collating quotations, refining the design and placing an order locally for economical construction of a new permanent footbridge over the tail of Lock 25. In the background, we have professional support from Fira Landscape Ltd whose competent design work has been particularly valuable in supporting our Planning Application to Lichfield District Council. Staffordshire County Council Highways Dept. have helped with surfacing materials and woodland licensing. Given the rate of progress, we hope to hold a ceremonial “opening” of the new public facility during the Lichfield Twinning week-end at the end of April 2008.

In preparation for the Pound 26 boundary wall, what seemed like a simple task of removing the remaining trunk of the silver birch in the channel proved to be a challenge. Having excavated all around, and the gang severed the roots, it still would not surrender to heavy dumper pulling and digger pushing. Eventually, it became clear that the tree had a two-tier root system, probably dating back to when it first rooted in the canal bed, then after being infilled around grew another set of roots higher up! See the photographic evidence.

Lichfield Canal land purchase
Acquisition of part of the field between Lock 26 and the Tamworth Road for future diversion of the canal has gone ahead and the land suitably fenced off so that a footpath can run right through the Borrowcop Locks Canal Park. Meanwhile, we turn our attention to the more difficult strategic elements of creating a new canal channel that must pass under the A51 and A38 roads to connect with Huddlesford Junction. It’s easy to say, but…….


Ground clearance for Pound 27 towpath wall foundation
4th November 2007
 
Brian Kingshott joins the gang completing Lock 26 bywash outfall
1st December 2007

wrg North West brave the mud on the next section of Pound 27 foundation
9th December 2007
 
Half the Pound 27 towpath wall foundation laid
9th December 2007

wrg North West clearing the SCC woodland to prepare for a new footpath
9th December 2007
 
Part of the new footpath to pass through the Borrowcop Locks Canal Park
9th December 2007

Approximate position where Pound 26 off-side boundary wall is being built
 
Removing the silver birch stump in Pound 26 revealed two layers of roots
5th January 2008
(photos by Bob Williams)

Bob Williams

HATHERTON CANAL

 
Denis Cooper and the "Hatherton crew" busy with towpath clearance in December 2007
 

Denis Cooper, Joe Farren, Clive Hensman, John Clarke, Vic Stanway and Bill Cole enjoying mince pies and sherry at the pre-Christmas work party.
(photos by Barry Kenn)
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