Prodigious! There are many ways to describe a work party. On this occasion, this seems the most appropriate.

The first of the June work parties clocked up a record 580 volunteer hours over three days, boosted by visiting volunteers on Friday. Five volunteers from Practice Plan in Oswestry came to help out with vegetation clearance that was starting to choke the hedging whips planted over winter. A further ten Arcadis volunteers from as far afield as Birmingham, Liverpool and Manchester helped with lining and blocking the channel. Enormous progress was made on all fronts and a big thank you is owed to all those who gave their time.

The channel in Phase 1A (north of the compound by Crickheath Wharf) and Phase 1B (south of the compound) is separated by a farm crossing which is beyond the scope of the current project. The site of this future work will be protected by temporary dams in the channel north and south of it with a connecting pipe between 1A and 1B. During this work party, a further 36 metres of channel was lined and blocked in the area south of the compound thereby reaching the location of the temporary dam. A heroic achievement aided by favourable weather and the additional volunteers.

There still remains much to complete in this section: towpath and offside banks at and above water level, plus of course constructing the temporary dam, but progress has been rapid and is well on track.

In Phase 1A, the focus was again on placing coping stones back onto the repaired wharf wall. This work party saw 16.7 metres of new copings funded by the grant from the Association for Industrial Archaeology placed on the repaired wall. The next length of copings to be placed will comprise the original stones from the wharf that remain in good condition. So far, a total of 43 metres of copings have been placed, 39 metres remain.

This section of the channel remains very wet with high groundwater levels although these are continuing to drop – slowly. A number of additional work parties have been arranged over the summer period to ensure works will be completed before winter rains fill the channel again.

Team Arcadis (SUCS).

Approaching the dam location (SUCS).

Wharf wall looking good (SUCS).