In September 2015, the coping stones were braced along the whole length of the lock, and an extra WRG 10 day camp was planned to clear the vast volume of mud and silt from the lock chamber. Kescrg joined forces with the camp for the first weekend.
By the end of the Kescrg weekend, the lower gate cills and mitres had been completely cleared, and the first 15 feet or so of the chamber itself were clear to the invert. An interesting cast iron water pump was found in the mud, probably related to the water supply for the Round House when it was the Lock Keeper’s accommodation.
Over the course of the rest of the week, the whole chamber was cleared of all mud and debris, which was an amazing effort. There is very little that can beat the sheer joy and camaraderie of digging and wading through such a volume of stinking mud… if you are that way inclined at least.
The 2016 WRG Camp season marked the start of the concerted effort to rebuild the lock chamber. Five camps were scheduled, the first two in late July / early August and a further three at the end of August and early September. Kescrg took charge of the first of these five weeks, and our first task was to jet-wash the walls below the Thames waterline, so they could be inspected to determine what state they were in, and to break out and repair any particularly bad sections. Generally, the chamber below the waterline was in remarkably good condition, having been protected from frost damage, and most of the chamber just required the brick joints to be raked out and repointed with lime mortar. Our chainsaw operator also carefully cut the remains of the lower gates into manageable sections for the barrow hoist to remove. Given the gates above the waterline had completely rotted away, the remaining wood that had been permanently in water was in amazingly good condition, making them something of a challenge to dismantle.
The second task for the week was to begin the process of erecting scaffolding along the whole length of the chamber.
By the end of the 5 weeks of WRG camps, the scaffolding had been completed in the chamber, the coping stones and associated acro-props removed, the first half of chamber wall had been demolished down to water level on the upper southern (roundhouse) side, and the first 12 or so courses of bricks and blocks had gone back on.
Kescrg returned to Inglesham for our October weekend, to continue the brickwork on the southern wall, and to make the site safe for the winter in case of flooding by lifting the scaffolding platforms above the likely flood levels and temporarily blocking up the ends of the part constructed walls to prevent floodwater washing in behind the walls.