On 17th February 2022, Storm Eunice was predicted to hit southern England the following day.
The Society’s team of 87 Lengthsmen were put on alert by the Lengths Manager, Barry Jones, with a “Call to Arms”, to go out on the day of the storm, or soon afterwards – if safe to do so – and to walk their “length” of the canal and report any damage suffered as a result of the storm.
It was important that detailed information be provided regarding fallen trees, including exact location and size etc. Photographs were particularly useful in showing the precise nature of the problem.
The response by the Lengthsmen team was impressive, with a total of 53 volunteers turning out and reporting their findings in the week including and following the storm. This is significantly higher than the usual regular reporting (around 35%) by the team, and resulted in the reporting of 111 tree issues.
All these reports were submitted to the Canal Authority on its dedicated Task Request portal as they were received, and three days after the storm the Society was able to show that almost 100% of the canal’s length had been visited and reported on, a remarkable achievement.
The quality and timeliness of the reporting enabled the Authority’s team of Rangers to prioritise their clearance efforts, dealing with the most potentially serious issues first, namely those trees whose uprooting might seriously weaken the canal bank. After that, the main objective was to keep the towpath clear and accessible.
The Canal Society’s Lengthsmen operate on a regular basis all year round, and it is testament to their dedication that the maintenance of the canal can be so actively assisted in cases of extreme weather conditions.
New volunteer Lengthsmen are always welcome. We can never have too many eyes on the canal, so if you are interested, please contact Barry Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org