Ryeford to Oil Mills
Channel widened - March 2012
|The channel that was excavated during 2011 has now been widened|
4th May to 18th May 2008 - Towpath re-opened
Work is nearering completion on both the channel and towpath.
The channel has now been completely excavated and lining installed
The towpath has been levelled and surfaced.
The site fencing has been removed allowing the general public to use this section from Ebley through towards Ryeford again.
Some of the bricks and coping stones from the original bridge structure that were excavated from the canal bed have been cleaned and used to construct a "perch area" to the west of the bridge.
Work continues to create the flat path or alternative steps from the towpath to Bridge Road.
The wildlife has moved it with numerous ducks and also a family of ducklings taking up residence on the new section of water.....
|Towpath re-open to the public|
|Perch constructed using reclaimed bricks and coping stones|
25th April to 3rd May - Joining up on the other side
Work has progressed both on the Channel and the Bridge.
Most of the remaining infill has been excavated to complete this length.
The brickwork under the bridge has been repaired and copings reset.
The towpath has been levelled and resurfaced.
Work has started to form new steps down from Bridge Road to the towpath.
|Looking from in front of Bridge House westwards under the bridge at the new line beyond|
|Looking eastwards from in front of Holy Tree house|
|Looking westwards from the top of Oil Mills bridge showing the full extent of the excavated channel|
15th April to 24th April 2008 - Going Underneath
Work has continued at Oil Mills in the last couple of weeks.
The channel under the Bridge has now been excavated exposing the original walls and towpath copings.
The new mains services under the bridge have been covered and the towpath surface replaced.
Excavation on the remaining section of canal between the bridge and the already reformed line to the west is now in progress.
The work site cabins have been removed from the main line of the canal and those still required on site are now in use alongside Bridge Road.
|Towpath wall on the east side|
|Towpath wall on the west side|
25th March to 14th April 2008 - Over and Under
Significant changes have happened at Oil Mills in the last couple of weeks.
Coping stones have been installed.
The tarmac has been laid down the full length of the road and over the bridge.
Traffic is now using the new bridge.
The temporary road diversion has be blocked off and dug up.
The gas main and electricity cable that run in the towpath are being replaced so as to run under the new bridge.
The site cabins are being relocated alongside Bridge Road so that the canal line can then be excavated.
|A car uses the new bridge|
|New Gas and Electricity cables go underneath |
10th to 24th March 2008 - Still on Target
A few finishing touches have been made to the bridge the last couple of weeks, and works to the channel itself have been moving forward:
Parapet walls brickwork completed
Coping stones are being made to size and will be installed shortly
Steel parapet rails fixed in position
Reconstruction of offside channel edge using gabion baskets
Preparatory work (drainage, kerbing etc) has continued prior to the road reconstruction and surfacing.
|Steel parapet installed and brickwork ready for coping stones|
|Almost ready for a road..|
|Underneath the towpath side all finished|
|New section in front of what will be new housing|
|Bank prepared for gabian wall|
|Completefd gabian wall/ bank stabilisation|
8th February to 10th March 2008 - Work continues
With work on the bridge rapidly nearing completion, activity has been turning towards the canal channel itself:
Concrete fill to areas behind arch capping blocks has been completed
Canal sides have been excavated out in repair section, and material stored for re-use
Bog mats (timber support decks) have been placed in the canal bed for machine access
Towpath side foundation trench excavated and stone fill commenced
The fabrication of mattresses has commenced, ready for positioning towpath side, and filling with stone
The construction of bridge walls up to coping level, in new brickwork has been in progress to SW and SE walls.
|Brickwork continues on both sides of the bridge under wraps to protect from frost|
|Further infill material being removed from in front of the Ebley Saw Mills site|
24th January to 7th February 2008 - Bridge Nearing Completion
Oil Mills Bridge is now almost ready for traffic, with the new deck being tested and proofed. Recent works have included:
Drainage pipework has been installed
Concrete infill behind the arch brickwork has been in progress
Pointing to the wing walls has continued
Brickwork to the South side arch section has been completed
Timber formwork has been stripped from the sides and ends of the bridge deck
Specialist waterproofing layer applied to bridge deck ready for protective asphalt covering
Ducts have been extended from the bridge deck to reconnection points for services/cables.
|Capping of original abutments in progress|
|Waterproofing applied to deck|
|The new deck with shuttering and supports removed|
15th to 24th January 2008 - Bridging the Gap!
A significant step forward in the restoration of the Cotswold Canals was taken yesterday (January 23rd) with 25 cubic metres of concrete being poured into shuttering to form the deck of the restored Oil Mills Bridge. Other works have included:
Brickwork, using a specially selected mix of traditional bricks, has been continuing on the bridge wing walls
Repointing of the original abutments has commenced
Preliminary work has been in progress to re-route gas, electricity, water and British Telecom services back to their original lines.
|Visitors look on as contractors ensure an even spread of concrete. © British Waterways|
|Engineers stood in the canal whilst concrete pours onto the deck above. © British Waterways|
|Concrete pouring in progress. © British Waterways|
|Brickwork and repointing to South-East wing wall. © British Waterways|
1st to 14th January 2008 - New Year, New Bridge Deck
The first weeks work of the New Year at Oil Mills has been concentrating on preparations for the new bridge deck and traditional brickwork:
Shuttering has been constructed on the bridge deck. This will used as a temporary mould into which concrete will be poured
Loose brickwork has been dismantled on the South East wing wall pillar, and a large tree root removed
Damaged/perished bricks in wing walls have been removed, with old mortar joints being raked out in some areas
A sample area of new lime mortar pointing to existing brickwork has been completed
Sample brick panels have been constructed using differing brick mixtures and lime mortar mixes in order to match new brickwork with the old as closely as possible.
|Shuttering in place and repair of the facing brickwork on the South-East corner underway|
|Looking south showing the shutter under construction|
22nd December to the End of 2007- Back in Time
As with most construction sites, Oil Mills has closed down for the Christmas and New Year break so we don't have any new pictures. Instead we have a couple of shots of what the bridge looked like in its earlier years.
|Oil Mills Bridge in the 1930's taken from in front of Bridge House|
|The same shot as above but in 1973 just before the bridge was demolished|
11th to 21st December - The Bridge Takes Shape
The restored bridge has been starting to take shape this week with temporary supports for the new deck being installed and preparations being made for work to continue in the New Year:
The construction of the support pad and erection of falsework to support the bridge deck formwork has been completed
The recovered coping stones have been sorted and prepared ready for masons to establish re-usable lengths
The lime mortar mix for pointing and brickwork has been established, with samples on site
New information panels installed, to be updated as work progresses
The site has been made safe for the Christmas break, with works continuing on January 7th.
|Looking down the line of the new road|
|Formwork supports between the old structure|
|New on-site information boards have been installed at either end of the site|
3rd to 10th December - The Bridge Moves On
Works this week have continued to concentrate on the renovation of the bridge. Preparations are being made for the new bridge deck; whilst as much of the original structure as possible is being meticulously retained:
Concrete has been used to form the new abutments and waterproofing applied to the surfaces
Stone infill has been placed behind each abutment
The spoil within the old bridge structure has been reduced to towpath level and the remaining brickwork exposed
Iron bars were found at each end of the towpath side walls which were used to reduce damage to the stone/brickwork corners by the tow ropes of horse-drawn boats. These are in excellent order and show the classic signs of wear due to many years of rope abrasion
Preparations have commenced for erection of the falsework support system for the new bridge deck
Archaeologists have been on site recording the newly exposed sections of the original bridge.
|New concrete bridge supports in place behind original abutments|
|New abutments ready for new bridge deck|
20th November to 2nd December - Old Uncovered, New added
Work has continued on site with reinforcing steel being put in place prior to casting the main bridge abutments within the original brickwork. The concrete is due to be poured early this week.
Removal of spoil from the bridge area has continued with approximately 450 tonnes taken out this week Total amount of excavated material removed to date is 9900 tonnes.
Excavation has also taken place on the east side of the bridge to expose the remains of the arch on either side of the canal and the original wing walls leading into the bridge hole.
The temporary access road through the sawmill area has been removed.
|New bridge reinforcing in place nearly ready for concrete|
|South-East wing wall|
|North-East Wing Wall|
9th to 19th November - Key Milestones Reached
Key milestones have been reached this week between Ryeford and Oil Mills. The canal channel along the in-filled section is rapidly approaching completion, and the work to construct the new bridge has commenced. Works have included:
Approximately 240m of the canal channel has been completed (about 80% of total)
8420 tonnes of material has been removed so far
Imported clay is still being used for lining/stabilisation of the side slopes
Approximately 160m of towpath has been constructed
The temporary road diversion is still in use and working well with no traffic problems
A drilling rig is on site at the bridge, and four 600mm diameter bridge bearing piles have been constructed
An archaeology team has been on site this week recording details of the existing structure prior to construction.
|Start of towpath works and clay lining|
|Piling rig in operation at Oil Mills Bridge|
|Original Bridge Abutments Exposed|
4th to 9th November - Work Continues
Work has been continuing apace this week at Oil Mills and the Ebley infill. Morrison Construction has made several steps towards completing the channel, and preliminary testing for the bridge construction has been completed. Works have included:
Excavation of the canal channel is now 50% complete. Total excavation (where possible) will be completed by the end of next week
6,500 tonnes of spoil have been removed
All service diversions (e.g. gas and electricity) have now been completed
The temporary access road has been constructed, and is in use by homes and businesses to the south of the canal
Preliminary probing works were carried out to test the ground for piling to support the deck of the new bridge. No problems were discovered and the main piling works will start by the end of next week, lasting for about seven days
Preparation works have been completed on the new towpath at the western end of the site - surfacing will take place next week.
|Completed temporary access road (Oil Mills bridge on the left)|
20th October to 4th November 2007 - A Canal Appears!
Work has continued with removal of more of the household refuse that had been used to infill the canal in the late 1960's and early 1970's.
Preparation is underway next to Oil Mills Bridge where a temporary road diversion is being constructed that will allow continued access for the houses and businesses that are located on the south side of the canal.
The work to divert the 11Kv electricity cable that runs along the towpath in this area has also been completed.
|The newly excavated line starts to look like a canal|
|The remains of Oil Mills Bridge to the left, looking towards the temporary road diversion route|
12th to 19th October 2007 - Digging Starts
Work on the infilled section of canal has been steaming ahead throughout October:
Earth barrier installed to prevent liquid waste from the infilled section entering the overgrown watered stretch to Ryeford Locks during removal of the domestic waste.
Temporary road installed to allow access for construction traffic through the old saw mills site. This area is soon to be developed by Newland Homes, who gave the Partnership permission to use their land.
Gas main diverted and preparations made for diversion of the electricity supply for businesses and homes on the south side of the canal.
3,000 tonnes of spoil excavated and removed.
75 metres of canal channel excavated. The digging has now reached the domestic refuse that filled the canal in the late sixties/ early seventies.
The contractors carrying out these works are Morrison Construction who have a long history of similar projects and will be restoring the canal and bridge to the highest possible standards.
|Excavation Starts (Looking Towards Ebley Mill)|
|Excavated Canal Channel |
September 2007 - Diggers at Oil Mills
The destructive search commenced at Oilmills bridge on Tuesday 4th September having now reached 5 days of non reptile capture. This is the final stage of the reptile relocation with an excavator scraping the top couple of centimetres of earth across the site and check made to ensure there are no slow worms or grass snakes in burrows just below the surface.
Once this destructive search has been carried out, the excavation will follow shortly afterwards.
Works have been slightly delayed from the previously quoted August start date, as a result of the unexpectedly large number of habitant reptiles, that we have needed to relocate before any works can commence. This is to ensure they are not affected or harmed by the restoration works at Oilmills and within the channel.
Thankfully, we are now nearing the end of this translocation process which since July has seen the capture of over 285 reptiles (255 slow worms and 30 grass snakes).
|Storage cabins and plant on site ready to start excavation|
|The earth that has been removed and checked|
July 2007 - Reptile Relocation
A programme of reptile relocation has been taking place between Oil Mills Bridge and Ryeford Lock. Fencing has been put up in around the infilled section of canal to prevent reptiles from entering the area from adjacent land and squares of roofing felt have been put out which reptiles will go under to warm up during certain weather conditions. Staff and trained volunteers are then moving them into the wet section of the canal outside of the fence. In the five weeks up to the start of August , 214 slow worms and 18 grass snakes were moved and this will continue until no reptiles are found for five consecutive days. To avoid impact on the reptiles and their habitats, it is only then that construction work can begin.
|Relocated Grass Snake|
|Early Reptile Survey Poster|
October - December 2006
Following the planning approval for the Ryeford to Oil Mills section, volunteers from BTCV started work almost immediately on vegetation clearance work. This work involved over 40 volunteers, who cleared large tracts of bramble and grassland in order to improve access for the contractors working on the First phase of works.
|Volunteers in action clearing bramble|
Over the weekends of the 18-19th November and 2-3rd December, volunteers from the Cotswold Canals Trust undertook significant preparatory works towards the much delayed First Phase of engineering restoration works, from Ryeford Lock to Oilmills Bridge. It is hoped that these works will start in August 2007.
A total of 50 volunteer days were recorded over the two weekends which is an excellent turnout. This work has not only helped to show the dedication of the CCT and other local community volunteers, but will also allow the Partnership to pour further funds in to the restoration project via match funding.
As the pictures reveal, the volunteers did a fantastic job in successfully clearing the scrub and tree waste situated around Oilmills Bridge and right along the infilled canal line to Ryeford. As one of the volunteers commented at the end of the works, "it almost looks like a canal again."
|Cotswold Canals Trust volunteers hard at work|
|Almost looking like a canal!|
What will the works consist of and what works have already taken place?
Work at Oilmills will involve the restoration of a 650-metre length of Canal and the building of a new bridge leading to the Snow Mill and a number of private houses. Bridge works are expected to be completed first, followed by the canal excavation work.
The original hump-backed bridge on the site was removed as part of a road improvement scheme. It will be replaced by a new bridge echoing original designs but able to carry modern traffic.
A large amount of work has already been undertaken on the Oilmills site by local volunteers. This has included substantial amounts of vegetation and tree management work as well as assistance with the reptile translocation.
The Partnership are extremely grateful for all their great efforts.
|Oilmills Bridge in 2006|