06 April 2018

Notes from the Western Depot
by: Buffs
After the wet Easter and rain last week today was forecast to be showery at best. That did not stop over 30 volunteers signing on this morning.  There were logs to collect from trees felled by the recent high winds, finishing touches to complete on the new accommodation module, power tools tobe worked on and of course the continuing progress on Patricia.
The heavy rains of the last week has been working its way through the waterways of Gloucestershire with flooding on the floodplains of the Severn. We could see some effects of the rain on the Stroudwater with high water levels at the Ocean and waterfalls over the lock gates at Blunder and the stop planks at Pike lock. The normal background traffic noise was replaced by the roar from the bypass around pike lock which discharges just outside the yard.
Today two volunteers went to open the Ocean swing bridge and carry out a small adjustment to the running gear. The small repair to relieve a slight rub between the bridge and the track on which it runs was quickly dealt with. After a false start to allow some cars and dog walkers to cross the swing was started. The bridge has a hydraulic operating system which is powered by the turn of a handle. It takes more than 170 turns of the handle open the bridge. The volunteers take it in turns to wind or spin the pump which gives opening this bridge it colloquial name of ‘spinning the Ocean’. It has become a rite of passage for all Western Depot volunteers. With two volunteers on a warm day it takes about 6 minutes to open the bridge, with 3 we managed it in 4 minutes! Closing the bridge requires the same effort.
Volunteer Colin giving his best as he winds the bridge open. Colin is trying a step to see if it would improve the swing on the handle as some people are likely to find the handle a bit of a stretch at the top.
Today’s visit to the bridge was extended when it was discovered that one of the hinges on a gate was dislodged. Some time was spent relocating it but it will require the gate to be returned to the depot for more work.
In my last post I promised some photos of the new bench at the Ocean. Here they are:
The view from the bench over St Cyr’s church and the canal. The pair of swans which share this stretch  are back but proved to be camera shy.
NEW Accommodation
Early morning visitors to the Western depot will always be welcomed into our tea room even though it can be standing room only even into the office.  It is with some relief that the new accommodation unit has been signed off as complete by our depot manager and chief electrical engineer. This unit offers more than twice the floor area and more seating. It is also farewell to the boiler which provides hot water for tea and keeps the room warm in winter. The new unit has an instant (ish) boiling water supply.

Depot manager Reg thanks volunteers Will, Dave and Ray for their unstinting efforts in re-purposing the caravan to provide much needed extra space for the growing number of volunteers at Western Depot.
The first Cuppa!
RATTY & MOLE naming date
The date of the formal naming of the two new work boats constructed at Western depot has been set for 25 April.  They will give up their yard names for what I am sure will be splendid names but to us they will remain Ratty and Mole.