A lot of major works are in progress or about to be started on the Canal this winter, which is encouraging. The BCA’s report on winter stoppages gives the full picture, but in summary, they include: repairs to culverts (man-made channels under the canal), lining of leaking sections, lock structural repairs and gates replacement at various locations, towpath improvements and tree works. Note that closures to several sections of navigation and towpath will be necessary at various times during these works. The winter stoppage report will be updated as progress is made and if schedule changes become necessary.
The dewatering of the Canal through a significant part of Woking has been widely reported in the press and has attracted local interest. Fiona Shipp, Canal Manager, was recently interviewed about it on BBC Radio Surrey (starting from 1:49:10). This work is going on in preparation for the repair of the culvert that takes the Rive Ditch stream under the canal bed, due to take place during the rest of February and March. Other works that may also be of interest to the public are reported on below by James Taylor, strategic manager for the Basingstoke Canal: – Ed
Woking drain down
“1.7km of Canal in the middle of Woking is currently being drained for the first time since restoration. Stop planks are installed at Skew Bridge and Monument Bridge, and the water is gradually being pumped out to enable a specialist licensed contractor to move the fish elsewhere on the Canal (of which so far there appears to be a healthy number of various species) – see right, and for more photos see the BCA Facebook page – Ed. The drain down is required so that Surrey County Council’s contractor can replace a life-expired brick culvert which passes under the Canal near Boundary Road Recreation Ground. Once the Canal is drained the contractor will excavate away the Canal bed, demolish the old culvert and replace it with a new pipe and cover back over with a concrete cap. They will take 4-6 weeks to do the work.
“Navigation through the Woking Pound is closed and there will be no lockages in or out of Woodham or St John’s locks for the duration of the closure to maintain water levels in the unconnected lengths of Canal either side of the drain down. The section of towpath between Monument Bridge and Boundary Road Recreation Ground will be closed from Monday 22 February and is officially closed to public access and will be secured as a construction site – stay out for your own safety! Fortunately there is an easy diversion along Boundary Road.
“Not wishing to have an easy life, a second drain down is in the advance stages of planning! Ash Embankment will be drained in two stages to enable (the same) contractor to re-line the bed of the Canal on both sides of the A331 aqueduct where there have been long term issues with seepage from the Canal bed. Surrey County Council is leading these works on behalf of both counties. Soft silt will be dredged from the channel and spread on the embankment, followed by lining the bed with a bentonite-based geotextile topped with clay won from the Canal bed and re-puddled. Fish rescue and the temporary relocation of marginal plants will be required before the excavations start in earnest. The bentonite liner is to be used due to logistical problems with getting enough clay to the site – unfortunately we no longer have access to the narrow gauge railway used during restoration! I would like to thank Canal & River Trust for their guidance on use of bentonite liners.
“When the works on the Surrey side of the aqueduct are complete, this section will be refilled and the Hampshire section of the embankment (between the aqueduct and Ash Lock) will drained and the process of repairs repeated.
“Stop planks will be installed at Ash Wharf Bridge on 22 February to begin the staged drain down. The navigation will close from that date between Ash Wharf and Ash Lock until the work is completed (scheduled 20 March – but with delays in the start of this project it may be a week or two late finishing). The towpath will be closed– except the section over the aqueduct which will stay to maintain the Blackwater Valley Path– until the works are complete. The towpath and Canal channel either side of the aqueduct will be a construction site – please obey all signs and site fencing and stay out for your own safety!”
James Taylor, Strategic Canal Manager.
Dogmersfield Landslip Final Phase Repairs Delayed
The following statement was released in a recent BCA navigation report:
“The final phase of repairs to the Dogmersfield landslip have been delayed further and will not take place until Autumn 2016. Issues remain with the preliminary works outside Hampshire County Council’s control. The delay this has caused would have extended works commencing now into the spring and early summer and therefore conflict with the nature conservation, recreational and boating interests on the Canal. Hampshire County Council officers and engineers are seeking a way forward to ensure that the works are progressed as soon as possible in the Autumn. Meanwhile the towpath and navigation will remain open through the landslip area – navigation will be subject to the existing mooring, boat size and speed restrictions.”
The towpath improvements referred to above are going on along a 4km stretch from Ash Lock to Eelmore Bridge, near the end of the Farnborough airfield. This is an example of where the Canal has benefitted as a result of the Aldershot Urban Extension development. The towpath is being closed and relaid in stages, working east to west, by a contractor working on behalf of Granger, the AUE developer. The new surface will eventually connect up with the 1.6km of towpath that the Society laid between Eelmore bridge and Norris bridge near Fleet in 2011/12.