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Grantham Canal - bits of rusty metal and other interesting stuff.

Discussion in 'Everything Else Heritage' started by baldbof, Oct 5, 2015.

  1. baldbof

    baldbof Well-Known Member

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    The heritage adviser at C&RT's regional office in Newark is part of the C&RT team overseeing the project. The on-site work is being carried out by volunteers (i.e. us!) rather than bringing in expensive contractors. We have a C&RT site supervisor and he is the link with the various departments of C&RT. So any info from the heritage advisor, ecologists, project manager, Uncle Tom Cobbley, etc is passed to him and then onto us. The advisor was present at the TV shoot and helped with the brick cleaning; an opportunity for him to explain the original thinking on how the (now demolished) lock walls were to be repaired. A pity he wasn't there today to help us with various tasks, he would have enjoyed the heritage mud and sludge!

    When we re-started today, the lock chamber had refilled over the Xmas break, not unexpected as the small leaks are still...errr...leaking and the area, in common with the rest of the country, had experienced heavy rainfall. It was noticeable that once the lock chamber had been pumped out, there was a considerable amount of ground water coming through what is left of the lock walls - the ground is absolutely sodden and I guess it will be sometime before those leaks dry up. I don't think the canal builders had thought about damp-proof courses in 1794. I took some photos today but I suppose one lot of mud is much the same as any other. However, the weather was fine and sunny and several cups of tea were drunk in addition to some bricks being cleaned - so not too bad a day.
     
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  2. GWR4707

    GWR4707 Resident of Nat Pres

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    Good stuff not sure who the East Mids HA is as everyone shunted around somewhat after I went, but they are a good and very knowledgeable group (but I would say that ;-)!

    One thing I don't miss is the joy (and cold!) of canal work in winter, so I applaud you and your fellow volunteers for the work you are doing!
     
  3. baldbof

    baldbof Well-Known Member

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    Thank you kind sir. The current incumbent introduces himself as Graham. Being involved with the restoration gets me out of taking Mrs b on intense retail therapy missions. ;)
     
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  4. baldbof

    baldbof Well-Known Member

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    A quiet day on the restoration site. It had been raining in the couple of hours before we got there and the it was still bit cloudy.

    The lock chamber hadn't filled up over the weekend which was a rather pleasing sight and the archaeologist turned up ( a more pleasing sight) do so some more exploration of the site. As the ground was still soaking wet and turning to mud as soon as any weight was put on it, he opted out of using his trowel and resorted to a more practical method for shifting the dirt.

    IMG_0625.jpg

    He still got his wellies clogged up with mud. The sound of the mud "slurping" could be heard from where the photo was taken. We don't think he found anything of interest, although I suspect he was being more restrained following his goof of excitedly declaring a fire bar as a piece of William Jessop's fish-bellied rail dated circa 1810.

    Apart from some brick-cleaning, we had to re-instate some safety fencing, in place to keep folks off the site, which the dog-walkers had moved because it was blocking the towpath where they take their beloved pooches for a dump walk. Some of them get quite shirty when you try to explain it's for their own safety as they have "been walking this towpath for years".
     
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2017
  5. baldbof

    baldbof Well-Known Member

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    A cold frosty morning dawn and we're back on site with the archaeologist wanting some earth removed from behind the off-side wall. There's not much further to go on that side of the lock wall as the digging is down to about level with the floor of the lock chamber. You can see how much has been removed by comparing this picture with the one in the posting above.

    IMG_0638.jpg

    The excavation behind the lock wall has been extended to behind the corner blocks which support the lock gates. We are awaiting an engineering decision on whether to retain the corner blocks or demolish them. If they are demolished, then someone has to provide an accurate datum point for setting out the re-build. If they are retained them we will "just" fill in the spaces between the corner blocks and also save ourselves a whole lot of brick cleaning.

    On a lighter note, we've had a replacement welfare cabin delivered . One of the team decided to go and "christen" the facilities. Nobody noticed for a while, until it was time for a tea break when someone said "Where's Bob?" After looking around the site, Bob could not be found. So they carried on with the tea break. It was only after tea break was finished and another member of the team went to "ease springs" that Bob was discovered. He was trapped in the toilet compartment and had been there for over an hour. No one had heard his shouts because the toilet is next to the generator compartment - the genny was running- and the cabin acts like a Faraday Cage so his mobile phone had no signal (signal strength in that area is poor at the best of times). It took a combination of lots of tugging at the door handle, the judicious use of a pick axe and some strong language to get the door open. Oh! how everyone laughed (not Bob, I hasten to add) and work was considerably delayed until all had managed to get themselves back into some semblance of self-control. The rule now is if you are going to use the toilet, you tell someone and you don't lock the door from the inside.
     
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2017
  6. GWR4707

    GWR4707 Resident of Nat Pres

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    Bleeding hell that a big job, don't think I was ever involved in excavations behind a lock wall for fear of disturbing the face, plus a lot of the NW locks have buttresses that extend to the rear of the wall and provide lateral support so would be even more to line up prior to rebuilding on a project of the scale you are doing - but if it needs doing!

    When you say 'corner blocks which support the lock gates' do you mean the quoins that the heel post rotates within and seals against, again only seem these occasionally replaced singularly which was hard enough to aligned correctly, you have to admire the engineers who laid these structures out historically.

    Looks delightfully cold again!
     
  7. baldbof

    baldbof Well-Known Member

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    If you go back to post #23, there's a better picture of what our C&RT man calls the corner posts - it's that great big block of brickwork either side of the chamber at both ends of the lock. There's also a photo of the damage to the buttresses (or counterfortes) which resulted in the decision to demolish the walls rather than pin them back to a concrete support wall. The hinge straps from the original gates are still there and it is hoped they can be re-used when the new gates are eventually installed. Not so the heel posts - there's the well rotted remains of a couple of them but they are beyond re-use and fit only for the bonfire.

    It was a tad bit chilly when we started yesterday, but we soon warmed up doing various tasks - one of which was to dump a load of wood ash onto the face of the upper dam to try and seal a persistent and very irritating small leak. There's plenty of ash about due to the number of fires we've had getting rid of brush cuttings and branches. We also use the ash to seal any leaks on the lock gates if they have dried out and are leaking like a sieve. It's a surprisingly effective remedy. We checked the dam after a couple of hours and the leak had reduced from a steady trickle to just a weep, so quite promising. The guys who are up there today will be keeping an eye on the fix and will add more wood ash if needs be.
     
  8. baldbof

    baldbof Well-Known Member

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    I spent yesterday on our open stretch helping recover bits of tree and other stuff from the navigable section.

    At one stage the skipper called out "Baldbof!! Duck!!"

    I turned round to see ..not a duck... but three bl**dy great swans using the same stretch of water as a runway and heading in my direction as they passed Vr. I managed to lower my profile as they passed overhead but I still felt the rush of air from their wings.

    I then chastised the skipper on his lack of bird recognition skills.

    Duck

    [​IMG]

    Not a Duck

    [​IMG]
     
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  9. GWR4707

    GWR4707 Resident of Nat Pres

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    Counterfortes... That's the bleeding technical term I couldn't remember when typing the original post!
     
  10. baldbof

    baldbof Well-Known Member

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    This week has started with good progress being made. Last week, our work party's got the go-ahead to clear the silt out of the lock chamber and had made a good start.

    When we arrived on site this morning this was the scene. There was a gale blowing, but down in the lock chamber it was very sheltered even to the extend we soon over-heated and had to remove our jackets.

    IMG_0641.jpg

    Viewed from the upper corner post.

    IMG_0640.jpg

    This is the current state after we had done a serious amount of digging. There is still some silt at the lower end which the excavator cannot reach because of the corner posts, so it will all have to be dug out by hand - the shi silt is over 4 feet deep in some parts. Over on the left, the archaeologist has finished his work and is moving to the towpath side this week. Once he's done that side, them walls will come a-tumbling down.

    IMG_0667.jpg

    Removing the silt has exposed the floor of the lock - the invert in canal language - and it seems to be in good shape.

    IMG_0645.jpg

    That's a big relief as it means it is highly unlikely that any repair/restoration work will be required. The knock on effect is we will be able to start the re-build sooner rather than later after the remainder of the two side walls have been demolished.

    .....And just to prove I don't stand around taking photos and drinking tea, here's a shot of yours truly playing mud pies. That square hole in the wall is where the water enters the lock chamber when the paddles are opened. The surrounding brickwork is in English bond, but further to the left, it is in Header bond which appears to indicate that virtually the whole wall was rebuilt at some time after the original build.

    IMG_0653.jpg
     
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2017
  11. baldbof

    baldbof Well-Known Member

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    Just thought I would share a photo of the state of the lock at the end of this week's work. That is a fantastic sight.

    In the foreground is the mitre and boards of the lower gates. According to our retired civil engineer who took this photo, they are in very good condition having been well preserved by the silt that has covered them for the last 220-odd years.

    L15 invert.jpg


    Edited because the canal is 220 years old, not 80. It's 80 (ish)years since the canal as closed. silly me!!
     
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2017
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  12. nick813

    nick813 Well-Known Member Loco Owner

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    Hello,
    This great to read and follow!
    Well done!

    Nick
     
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  13. baldbof

    baldbof Well-Known Member

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    Thank you. Just trying to spread the word (and hopefully) encourage a few extra folks to join in with this exciting and worthwhile project.
     
  14. baldbof

    baldbof Well-Known Member

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    At the weekend it was back to our "normal" work of maintaining the four mile open section between Woolsthorpe and the A1 at Grantham. The recent bad weather had taken its toll of several trees along the canal and some of them had fallen into the waterway and need to be cleared before we re-start our revenue-earning boat trips at Easter (details on our web-site).

    Being entirely volunteer we can't guarantee loads of bodies pitching up to do the work but sometimes, fewer is better if you know what I mean.

    Anyway, one bad boy was blocking the cut near to Harlaxton Bridge (Bridge 66). The cavalry arrives to start the removal. Yours truly at the blunt end. (photo taken by another volunteer) What you can't see is the massive trunk just a few inches below the surface in the middle of the waterway.

    P1010608.jpg

    After much huffing, puffing, pulling, tugging, chopping, sawing and the occasional naughty word we got most of the tree in the hold of our workboat. We didn't managed to get all of the trunk out of the water - we need a few more bodies and a heftier winch to do that, but we did manage to get what was left alongside the bank and thus clear the channel.

    IMG_0680.JPG
    [​IMG]

    The clear channel. We sailed past the remains of the trunk just to prove that there were no underwater obstructions. Unfortunately, there is another massive, and I mean mahooosive, tree further along which prevents us from reaching the nearest winding hole where we can turn our boat. Consequently we had to reverse for over a mile from whence we came before we could get the boat pointing in the right direction.

    P1010614.jpg

    Before we got back to our moorings, we had to unload the boat's "cargo" ready for the next trip. As you can see, we have recovered a considerable amount of stuff from the waterway over time - the pile on the left is from the two most recent trips. The up side is that the guys who have wood-burning stoves get very excited at the free supply of fuel. One of our volunteers lives locally and will be along in the next few days to arrange disposal - he does wood-turning and carts various logs and branches away to make into bowls and other artefacts. (photo taken by another volunteer)



    [​IMG] P1010619 copy.jpeg
     
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2017
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  15. baldbof

    baldbof Well-Known Member

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    Things are moving along with the Lock 15 restoration project.

    Yesterday, we couldn't do very much because we had an invasion of archaeologists all eager to look at, measure, photograph and draw pictures of the walls inside the lock chamber. There's something at the upper end cill which got a couple of them in a bit of an excited state. I couldn't understand their terminology but it seemed to centre on the mason's marks on some large blocks which form the sluices into the lock chamber. You can see the marks on the blocks in this photo.

    IMG_0688.JPG

    Here's the archaeologists in the lock. They're here all week so us lesser mortals have to do stuff elsewhere. Yesterday we decided to have a bonfire of old branches and scrub - kept us warm on a chilly day. Unfortunately, we didn't have any spuds or sausages to make our efforts worthwhile.

    IMG_0689.JPG

    We also had to "assist" them with getting their cars back on the road after a couple of them ignored a temporary "don't park here" sign and found they had sunk up to their axles on some very soft, wet and squelchy ground.

    Things are starting to move now with other aspects of the project. At the end of this week, our team will be laying boards on the invert floor in the lock chamber to provide protection whilst a specialist contractor comes in next week to demolish the four corner posts. After that the side walls will be demolished, the rubble cleared and the marking out for the new walls can begin. Then, hopefully, not too long before the re-build starts. By preserving the invert of the lock we saved ourselves several months work.

    Also at the end of this week, we shall be starting the site clearance at Lock 14 in preparation for the WRG Forestry Team visit. They will take down some old trees which currently occupy the planned worksite--- more bonfires.!!

    In a "lessons learnt" development, the temporary dams and the by-wash for the next lock will be built further away from the lock to allow more room for working on the wing walls. The project engineer has realised that the dams and by-wash on the current lock are too close to the work area and may cause is problems when working on the new corner posts. We shall see.
     
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2017
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  16. baldbof

    baldbof Well-Known Member

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    Some photo's of what's happened since my previous post.

    The archaeologists took little longer than expected as the TV cameras were on site on Friday, so they were back today carrying out some final measurements. As can be seen, one of the lock walls is a tad bit out of plumb.

    IMG_0703.jpg

    Then to the main business of the day we did this at one end of the lock....

    IMG_0714.jpg

    And this at the other end.......

    IMG_0704.jpg

    Then let this big boy loose!!

    IMG_0713.jpg

    Et voila, the walls start coming down in pretty quick time.

    IMG_0711.jpg

    The lock's side walls will be taken down over the next few days and then......... I shall report back.
     
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2017
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  17. baldbof

    baldbof Well-Known Member

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    Reporting back after a few, quite busy days.

    Last week, GCS volunteers were asked to start preliminary vegetation and brush clearance at Lock 14 (the next one to be restored) prior to the arrival of the chainsaw gang from the WRG Forestry Group. As it was an excuse to have bonfires, there was a good turnout of arsonists assistance to get the job done. The area cleared is planned to accommodate a new by-wash and storage site for the earth which will be pulled back from the lock walls. One tiny problem - the tree covered in ivy may/might/possibly/not sure be home to bats so it has to stay until the little furry things can be moved elsewhere ( not as if they can't find their own way to somewhere else to roost).

    IMG_0722.jpg

    The cleared site from the towpath. Note the piles of logs awaiting someone to take them away.

    IMG_0728.jpg

    Our weekends involve keeping the navigable waterway between Woolsthorpe and Grantham free of debris in preparation for the resumption of our pleasure trips. After the high winds of recent weeks we have had quite a lot of fallen timber to deal with. We have reached a large tree at Bridge 67 (Vincent's Bridge) which is not co-operating with our efforts to remove it (sounds familiar to another part of this forum?). This section of trunk was hauled out of the waterway after much huffing, puffing and hernia-generating with the Tirfor winches. There's still some more to come out and we shall be tackling that in the coming weekend.

    IMG_0724.jpg

    Back to the weekday job, the large toy has been taken away for some else to play with.

    IMG_0731.jpg

    We've been given the go-ahead to remove the lock walls down to the level of the invert. The next few photos show the start made on that particular task. We've had to resort to the use of a jack-hammer as the walls are a bit resistant to the use of the excavator and too many heritage bricks were being broken. Use of the jack-hammer allows more bricks to be recovered for re-use.

    IMG_0734.jpg

    A close-up of the wall at the level of the invert. The wall is not joined to the invert and material has been used and infill in the gap between the two. The first cleared section after a serious bit of jack-hammering. The bricks below the level of the invert seem to be of a different type to those above the invert. They are a lot harder.

    IMG_0737.jpg

    This was a real surprise when we dug out at the rear of the wall. There doesn't appear to be any footings for the lock walls - the walls appear to be sitting directly on the clay. No wonder they have a bit of a lean. The project engineer is coming down to have look and will give a decision on where we go from here. At the moment we have to stop where the wall is level with the invert.

    P1010644.jpg

    Sitting quietly in one corner of the lock chamber is the post hole for one of the lock gate pivots.

    IMG_0742.jpg

    ...and here's the lads what done good today. The wall was at head height when we started this morning.

    IMG_0738.jpg
     
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2017
  18. nick813

    nick813 Well-Known Member Loco Owner

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    Hello,
    Any names for the Fabulous Four?


    Nick
     
  19. baldbof

    baldbof Well-Known Member

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    Dave x2, Rich, John -- but not in that order. ;)
     
  20. baldbof

    baldbof Well-Known Member

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    A photo from today showing the progress thus far with the demolition of the off-side wall. Over half the wall taken down in the last couple of days - the rest of the wall should be down in a couple of working days. We think the near-side wall will come down even quicker as it is in a far worse condition as parts have already fallen into the lock chamber.

    IMG_0745.jpg
     
    Last edited: Oct 27, 2017

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