I have been on holiday for ten days at the beginning of February, getting some much needed winter sun. So this report is basically in two halves, before and during this holiday period, and I'm sorry it's late.
1) Before. The new towpath from the Millennium Bridge through to Cricket Lane had almost been completed when we went away. The only bit remaining to be finished was that length between the bridge and the temporary access ramp from pound 25 to the towpath. We had lost a fair few hours working when we ran out of crushed limestone to top the path off with, and we also lost several working hours due to cold, icy miserable weather when work became impossible. The area between the narrows and the A51 is still too muddy to do any meaningful work there. The exception being that 'Rick the Brick' and Barry Parkes could continue with the construction of the canal wall. They have a new trainee brick-layer giving them a hand, Peter, who is profoundly deaf. With much signing, gesticulating and sketch book scribbling Peter is proving to be a useful addition to this team.
With work nearly completed on the towpath we are starting to give some attention to pound 25. This pound is fairly dry but it has a section of the dreaded big pipe running the full length of it, and this pipe has water constantly flowing through it. It is going to be incredibly difficult to work around it. The lock gate at lock 24 will have to be removed. An access ramp has to be established through lock 24. The lock gates at lock 25 will also need to be removed where there are remedial works to the cill in that lock to be done. The sides of the pound base will be concreted leaving a center section which will be put into clay. Much the same as previously in pound 27, but with the clay now in the center and not adjacent to the wall. The aim is to erect a small dam at the mouth of lock 25 so that there is a foot or so of water in this pound. Again the big pipe is the fly in the ointment. If we try to put this pound into a good depth of water then we would be flooding the big pipe back up towards Cricket Lane and beyond so cause flooding problems further up the system.
2) During. The tow path has now been extended to the other side of Cricket Lane by about 100 yards and is now complete except for the previously mentioned small length between the Millennium Bridge and the temporary ramp into pound 25. There is a water leakage problem in pound 26's wall and to get it sorted we need access via the towpath with machinery which will undoubtedly churn up any newly laid towpath surface, so we will wait until this task has been completed and then complete the towpath.
Other work carried out whilst I was away included the removal of the dam at the exit to lock 26. Again we have a water loss problem in pound 27 and the dams removal will allow us access. A start was made in pound 25 for future concreting of the base and how best to work around the big pipe. And now in the last few days the cutting down of trees in Darnford Park in preparation of extensive earth moving works, has been done.
In the four weeks covered by this report a huge amount of work has been done by our volunteers. Thanks to you all, We are always looking for new blood, (Sorry Dora but not in the Health and Safety sense where we don't want any blood at all), but to bolster our volunteer workforce, so please come along and give us a few hours.
Hugh Millington Photos Christine Howles
Island House, Moor Road
Registered in England - No. 2456172
Registered Charity No. 702429
VAT registration No. 823 8213 41