29 June 2019

Ham Mill lock gets its landing stage

by: David M.

Just getting workbarge Samson up to Ham Mill is an interesting challenge.  The barge fits nicely into our double-width locks, but to get our papyrus raft KonTiki aka Plastic Pig through as well (to save time, and precious water) requires some ingenuity.  It will fit sideways at the top of the lock but not down in the taper, so we have come to lifting it with the Hiab onto the barge.  In the case of Bowbridge Lock, it won’t fit under the bridge, so a pirouette is needed during the bridge-to-lock transition.
With the bund above Griffin Lock removed, there is just about enough width and draft to get through, with a bit more help from the Hiab in self-propulsion mode.  What a versatile piece of kit this is!
The Ham Mill landing stage was relatively straightforward, with about 70cm depth to dig out below towpath level, but still needed backplates to retain the towpath behind the back piles, which involved cutting a number of 4mm-thick steel plates lengthways down the middle.
Some digging-out of the bank was required, the profile sloping down from the towpath side.  We have used more of the industrial felt material to deter weed growth, though this is hard to fit, and we’ll seek a more practical solution in future.
The wooden frames went on without a hitch, Armco too.  We have decided for this landing stage to fit the green Fibregrid deck on top of the Armco, making a neater finish especially where the deck cranks down to the lower canoe level.  Bollards were cemented in, and an extra pile and Armco fender fitted at each end.  We made a platform with a step down for access, but it is not high enough to justify a set of railings, and actually gives a convenient access point for higher boat decks.