A Productive Winter of Work – An Update From the BCA

Upper Gates at Lock 3 in Woodham

Works were undertaken to replace the upper gates at Lock 3 in Woodham. This was a combination of our supplier Greenoak measuring and manufacturing the gates earlier this winter and then a different company lifting them into position with a crane barge, and then finally our skilled ranger team doing the final fitting of the gates. This involves fitting cills (a bit like a windowsill at the base of the gates for them to butt up against) and the saw-cutting of the gates to get them to meet tightly in the middle to reduce leaks. These gates are now fully in operation.

Dredging on the Canal in Hampshire

Dredging has been underway on the Canal in Hampshire for the last few weeks and is due to continue almost until the end of March. Companies tendered to carry out what we call spot dredging. This means targeting identified (by boats and depth surveys) spots of shallower canal. This work has been combined with some bank protection works to make best use of the dredgings. Our Tuesday volunteer team did a good job of clearing out the old silt dump area at Broadoak and the rest of the dredgings are being deposited in there, where they will soon dry out and vegetate over. The Canal can become shallower in some areas due to a variety of factors such as inlet ditches and streams bringing in silt and causing sandbars under the water and leaves from all our wonderful trees continually building up on the Canal bed, gradually decomposing and adding to silt levels over many years.

Work is now starting on resurfacing the towpath at Crookham. This work has been kindly funded by a grant from Crookham Village Parish Council and is funding resurfacing all the way from Malthouse Bridge through to Zebon Copse Swing Bridge.

Our volunteer teams have been very busy with winter cutting both from the towpath and from boats along what we call the ‘offside’ (non-towpath side) of the Canal. This helps to keep back the woody regrowth which is constantly encroaching. By doing different areas each year we manage it on a rough cycle, never allowing any one section to get too overgrown. With over 64 miles of bank to manage it would be impossible for us to do it all every year.

Repairs at Lock 8 & lock 26 were carried out to clear blockages and repair leaks around the bypass culverts (pipes that take water around the lock).

Our Trip Boat Rosebud

Our trip boat Rosebud, and our Patrol Boat, both had refurbishments and painting in our dry dock, all carried out by a team of volunteers. These boats are now ready for the boating season. Our dry dock allows us to drive boats into a covered area where we can then completely empty the water out leaving the boat resting on props. This enables easy access to the whole of the boat to carry out repairs.

Odiham Castle Interpretation Boards

Odiham Castle had a new set of Interpretation boards to replace the old ones that were looking a bit worn. This was paid for from a Heritage Lottery Fund grant.

Lots of tree works have been underway all winter as a result of the last set of tree surveys in Surrey. Inspectors will soon be starting surveys through the Hampshire section and works to these trees will then follow in the Autumn.