The arrival of the Land & Water Dredging Team at Lodgemore on Monday, August 11, signalled the start of the second phase of canal restoration between Stroud Brewery Bridge and Lodgemore Mills.
Land & Water’s Senior Site Manager Chris Spencer has recently completed a busy couple of months in Somerset. He and the five members of the dredging team have overseen the arrival of over 75 tonnes of equipment at Lodgemore Mill. Chris expressed his gratitude for the welcome given to his team by Woollen Specialist Products at Lodgemore Mill.
“We needed a base for our office and equipment close to the job. What WSP Textiles have provided could not be better. This is a very narrow site with some real challenges for the team and for the local people,” Spencer said.
He spoke of the intense background work that has gone on well before the arrival of the diggers and dumpers.
“We always work closely with the customer, in this case Stroud District Council; likewise the Environment Agency. We are acutely conscious that the tow path alongside the site we are about to start work on is a busy conduit for people going to work, to school and shopping up in Stroud. We aim to be completed in six weeks time.”
The initial stage involves ‘enabling work’. This term describes the creation of safe access for the heavy plant as well as assisting in the actual dredging and silt disposal. Some invasive species of vegetation will be dealt with. A fish rescue will be carried out this week to relocate fish back into the canal below Dudbridge.
A silt curtain, a textile membrane, will be installed across the channel to prevent suspended silt solids from flowing into the restored canal. Overhanging trees will be dealt with. Heavier timber will create habitat piles on the bankside opposite the towpath. This is where most of the excavated material will be placed and landscaped.
He explained the next stage with a degree of enthusiasm: “We will be excavating a navigable channel using some impressive equipment. Land and Water have recently purchased two Waterking amphibious excavators. They are manufactured in the Netherlands where they know a bit about drainage management. It is an excavator mounted on a pair of floating caterpillar tracks driven on large flotation pontoons.
“These are the only machines of this size and capability in the UK. We used the large one, the WK150, to great effect down in Somerset recently. The one for the Lodgemore job is the smaller of the two, the WK 80.”
Although the canal restoration project is mainly funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund and Stroud District Council, the work at Wallbridge has been assisted by a generous £100,000 grant from the Veolia Environmental Trust.
Ian Edwards, the council’s Canal Manager, said: “Technically, this is a very difficult site in which to work. Access is very difficult and would have been impossible without the kind assistance of landowners. When this work is complete, yet another length of derelict canal will have been returned to its former glory for everyone to enjoy.”
Press Release, August 13, 2014