Montgomery Canal: Crickheath South work party report – September 1-3, 2023

What a difference a month makes. Summer is coming to an end yet the weather appears to have finally remembered what it should be doing. In warm, sunny, and benign conditions a number of milestones were achieved.

Preparations for the pilot scheme water tests in October are now complete. Two further clay dams were built and there is now a test area in both Phase 1A and Phase 1B. These combined have a capacity of approximately 1,500 cubic metres. All arrangements for testing have been made and a large pump has been hired to fill these at the next work party with water being supplied from Crickheath Basin.

A substantial amount of surveying was undertaken including channel profiles, also in support of the pilot scheme. Enormous thanks are due to expert guidance received from former volunteer Julian who gave up his whole weekend to assist. This work also provided an opportunity to use some of the recently purchased tools funded by a grant from the Northern Canals Association (the first of three separate grants mentioned in this report).

With substantially more favourable weather conditions than last work party, magnificent progress was made constructing the towpath in Phase 1B funded by the grant from National Grid. A total of 83 metres was added to last month’s tally – no mean feat given the unforgiving nature of the existing towpath with very stoney ground and many large tree roots to negotiate.

Work continues on the tramway wharf wall. 69 metres has now been repaired and approximately 20 metres remains to be started. 31 linear metres of new coping stones have now been ordered, funded by the grant from the Association for Industrial Archaeology. It is expected these will take 2-3 months to produce and most likely will be installed next year. It is anticipated that a further 14-16 linear metres of copings will be required to replace all the unusable ones from the original wall. Work is underway to source these.

Repairs to Crickheath Bridge wash wall on the towpath side have continued apace. This job is now nearly finished. A few metres of wall top remains which will be completed next month.

And the final milestone to mention: Monty’s Brewery will be starting to bottle Navigation Pale Ale in the autumn. A sample case was provided to work party volunteers (for consumption off site) which, unsurprisingly, met with full approval.

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