It’s official! Shropshire Union Canal Society has a global following! Tony, from Sydney, was so impressed with what he saw online, he recently travelled to the UK to volunteer at the June work party (possibly not the sole reason for his visit).

This report covers two work parties as some additions have been made to the schedule over the summer. Both have been highly productive. The main activities have been work on the banks where the channel has been newly lined and blocked and also continuing work to place copings back on the newly repaired wharf wall.

With lining and blocking almost complete in Phase 1B, attention turned to the area at the top of the banks above the blocks. The solution differs between the towpath side and the off-side banks. On the towpath side, the method to protect the liners from (just below) water level to the towpath is the same as previously used: the liners are covered with medium-sized aggregate (riprap) which in turn is covered with soil. By Saturday of the July work party, this had been completed.

An alternative solution was used on the off-side bank, a small wall of interlocking blocks is built with earth behind for wildlife to populate. This, at times tricky and fiddly task, was completed over the two work parties. An outstanding effort was made by Society volunteers to complete laying the second course of blocks during the June work party. Each one of these specialist blocks must be very carefully manually positioned and interlocked without the use of mortar.

That then left the area behind this ‘retaining wall’ to be infilled. Particularly challenging was a stretch at the southern end of the site where there was no haul road and therefore no plant access from the top of the bank. Due to the slope of the bank and vulnerability of the uncovered liner system, this had to be done manually.

Right on cue, an army (well, 17) of corporate volunteers from Openreach turned up on Friday of the July work party eager to get stuck in. So large was the group that they split into three teams. Countless barrow-loads later and by mid-afternoon, the job was done. A special thanks to all of them – we look forward to seeing you next time! Thanks too to all the Society’s volunteers who have made such rapid progress over these two work parties aided by six new volunteers in the last month alone.

Whilst the hive of activity to complete the banks was under way in Phase 1B, the wallers, members of the Dry Stone Walling Association and assisted by Society volunteers, have been steadily progressing the completion of the wharf wall repairs in Phase 1A. The result looks impressive and if the weather is kind this should be completed next month.

We are always looking for new volunteers and members. Anyone interested in becoming a volunteer should see for details of dates and contacts. Please encourage family, friends and colleagues to become members of the society – please see for details of how to join. Note that you can join online and pay your subs online.

Pictures credit: Shropshire Union Canal Society.