In February a stage by stage plan for Phase I was prepared (click
1998/1 here for more details)
Work continued with fencing the site but a new problem arose in that 200 metres of canal at Little Tring had been filled in by the local council as a rubbish tip – with whose permission is a question still unanswered. The fill is mainly domestic ash but contained many old bottles and similar curios. We would arrive on site and find large craters where bottle hunters had excavated overnight. This was resolved by coming to an arrangement with the Norwich Bottle Club to excavate the site in
return for a donation of £1,500 to WAT. They completed the excavation over one week in January leaving a very tidy site and the problem was solved (click 1998/2 here for more details
After discussions with BW the drawings were all agreed and estimates prepared totalling £375,000 for Phase I re-lining and the rebuilding of Little Tring Bridge with completion in 2004. Thanks to the fact that BW, now CRT, own the canal, the Trust are able to purchase materials and pay for plant hire through BW and hence not pay VAT, a considerable advantage when counting the cost of restoration.
The design included 650 metres of‘L’ shaped reinforced concrete wall. Our Restoration Purchasing Manager, Ron Pittaway, sourced second hand steel formwork for the wall upright. Another volunteer, Rodney Hardwicke, had a son working for a contractor at Reigate clearing the site at the end of the works and we were able to source all the timber for the base formwork from that site – free of charge. Ken Graves took
charge of the manufacture of the timber formwork and it is still going strong, with periodic maintenance, in Phase II after more than 100
Next, steel mesh reinforcement for the wall was required and the ever resourceful Ron Pittaway went straight to the manufacturer to purchase plain sheets of reinforcement and then designed a bending frame to bend the necessary right angles so avoiding the cost of having the reinforcement pre-bent (click 1998/3 here for more details).
Once several bases had been poured it was possible to start pouring wall sections using our second hand steel formwork. For both the base sections and the wall sections we were able to place the ready-mix lorry close enough to the formwork for direct discharge.
After the first few 8.8m long base and wall sections had been poured
wall construction became very repetitive but with experience and as
modifications were made progress was rapid.
The other major element of the design was waterproofing the canal. Various options were considered and visits made to other sites where waterproofing was in progress. In the end it was decided to use Bentomat lining, granules of clay between two layers of artificial material.
Our volunteers all became expert carpet fitters!