03 October 2018

Final final River Section Dredging

by: Bob Hallam

The early autumn mornings bring a freshness to the air of the Stroudwater Canal. Some of its beauty was, however lost, on 2 of the stalwarts of the dredging team as they fought against the time left available to clear a vicious shoal immediately UNDERNEATH Dudbridge Bridge. This creates a problem since even with the long arms of Dredger No. 5 fully extended, clearance twixt bridge and mud hopper "Warp" is, shall we say, minimal! 

An urgent call was made to The Western Depot manager for a lock-side crew to assist with getting dredger and support vessel Annette 2 down the last Lock. Arriving with their normal great alacrity, life jackets donned, the vessels were speedily despatched downwards. 
Thank you chaps!! At the bottom of the leaky lock, the lock-side team departed back to base. 
Now to half-fill the hopper!

The reported shoal was - and is - truly a monster! It consists mainly of hardcore, bricks, rocks and gravel. Presumably this is the remains of the towpath and lock wall washed on during floods some years ago. 
 Today, we were fortunate that we had a dual-use dredging team member who also held a Tug driver qualification, so better to manoeuvre the hopper, we made use of the tug Margaret not being used today by her regular crew. Clearly, more cross-fertilisation would be a great benefit! 

  As normal, we found much objet d'art. 
Today's haul included a skateboard, garden fork, traffic cone, sandbags, sheets of polythene, eel matting from the eel pass, reinforcing bar and what we see here, a sheet of corrugated iron sheet! 
We half filled the hopper, pumped out the excess water and were very fortunate that 2 of the Tug Team were on hand to assist with tug Margaret and the mud hopper. Many thanks to them! 
The final session of the day was to move hopper with some shoal contents, Margaret, Dredger No. 5 and Annette 2 back to Ebley and a secure mooring. 
 This must be one of the largest gatherings of the combined CCT and SVCC maintenance fleet! 
Margaret, Patricia, Weedy, Warp, Dredger No. 5 and Annette 2.  
So now we move onwards to Ryeford and Canal Section dredging. 

"May your bilges always be dry and your anchor always hold."