Malswick – Winter 2019-2020

Swinging into action at Malswick

In our last Malswick update, we reported that we were expecting to take delivery of a swing bridge which was removed from a crossing point over the Bridgwater and Taunton Canal.

Tony Sellwood has been coordinating with the many parties involved and finally after many emails telephone calls and visits down to Somerset over the past few months, we finally took delivery of the bridge, on a grey December day.

The Bridge was owned by Somerset County Council. It carried road traffic across the Bridgwater and Taunton Canal and was restored in 1985.The Somerset CC let a contract worth £16 million to Whitemountain, a civil engineering group from Northern Ireland and now part of the Breedon Group, to build 2 new bridges one over the River Parrot and one over the B&T Canal.

During the construction phase ,the swing bridge continued to be used, but on completion of the contract, the bridge became redundant.

The Inland Waterways Association through Ray Alexander negotiated with the council for the bridge to be saved for a restoration project. The H&G Canal Trust made a successful bid for the swing bridge and plans were put in place to move it to Gloucester.

David Harrison, the senior Construction Manager for Whitemountain very kindly arranged for the bridge to be transported to the Keyways yard Nr Gloucester at no cost to the Trust. As the bridge was 12ft wide the low loader supplied by KRG Transport from Bridgwater, had to be accompanied by an escort vehicle.  Our thanks go to the drivers of the 2 vehicles Lewis Hawken and Dan Taggart .

On arrival at Keyway’s Yard, the bridge was carefully lifted off by Ralph Cantrill and placed in an area where it can be restored.

Thank you Ralph – a great job.

We were delighted to see that the pinion and bearing assembly was recovered intact from the Bridgwater site.

These have now been moved, and after much puffing and blowing, they were off loaded at the Engineering Workshop where Chris Phelps and Ian Turner have started the restoration work. We owe a debt of gratitude to all those who contributed to the recovery of the bridge and particularly to Tony for co-ordinating the whole exercise.

Meanwhile, at the Malswick site, the selective clearance of the West Woodland has been completed despite the adverse weather conditions. We have worked to ensure that a corridor of trees is retained either side of the proposed canal cut.

Tree stumps have been dug out and have been used to create a stumpery, which will in time become a haven for wildlife.

We have also been engaged in digging further slit trenches which have been filled with water to test how impervious the clay layer is. To date we have not found any evidence of puddle clay being used on the original line of the canal, so we are hopeful that we will not have to import it for the reconstruction. It is very expensive to transport.

When the adverse weather prevented us from working on site, the Malswick group have been carrying out some alterations at Malswick House, realigning the fencing, painting the conservatory and processing logs for sale.

So – lots of variety and definitely not dull.

(Pictures by Paul Henshaw and Alan McBride)

Please note that the site will not be open to the general public until the canal has been formally completed.

The Malswick Project is far from finished – we still have the canal itself to excavate and reinstate.

To achieve this, we need more funding and more volunteers. This is a great opportuntiy for you to “Gget Involved” and “Make a Difference”

Please take a few moments to look at our Funding and Volunteering webpages.

Thank you.