Parts of England have had their wettest winter since records began in 1836. The Environment Agency has said that England just went through its wettest 12-month period on record. In 1872, in similar circumstances, the Archbishop of Canterbury was leading emergency prayers for blue sky. With Storm Kathleen upon us, a repeat could have been helpful.

Plans are there to be changed. With prolonged pumping over the last month, at times involving up to six pumps, it had been hoped to resume work on the Crickheath Tramway wharf wall in Phase 1A but ground water levels had other ideas.

So, the main focus for this work party was to crack on with lining and blocking in Phase 1B, just south of the wharf. This section had failed the water testing last October, hence the need for waterproofing, though even here a modest amount of pumping was required before work could commence. The only favour Storm Kathleen offered us was to keep her heaviest rain to overnight but high winds during the day made placing the liners a challenge. Despite this, by Sunday afternoon a further 35 metres of channel had been lined and blocked. The blocks cover the liner below water level and there is still work to do above water level, but nevertheless this is a remarkable achievement.

With nowhere else to go, the diggers worked further down the channel in the direction of Schoolhouse Bridge. Following the site clearance in this area during the March work party, it was possible to start initial profiling of the channel by excavating the bed to the required level (‘grade’) and regularising the bank slopes (‘profiling’). Torrential overnight rain on Saturday prevented any further work on Sunday but, even so, substantial progress had been made.

A big thank you to all those hardy souls who braved the elements and turned up to achieve so much.