2017 marked Kescrg’s 40th anniversary, and we thought that focussing our attention on Inglesham for a large part of the year would be an appropriate tribute to all the volunteers and restoration sites who had gone before us.
So we kicked off the season with a massive long late-May bank-holiday 5-day weekend dig and party celebration. The Navvies report of this weekend is included below, but over the dig 50 or so volunteers had a huge impact on the site, transporting bricks and blocks to site to support the 6 WRG camps planned for the summer season; crushing a huge number of bricks that had come out of the chamber clearance and wall demolition to form backfill for the newly built wall; progressing the wall rebuild, and excavating the second half of the southern wall down to the waterline ready for rebuilding over the summer.
We then returned a couple of weeks later for our June weekend, and continued with preparation for the second half of the southern wall, cleaning up the stone pavement found at water level behind the old wall which forms the base for the new block wall, and removing and replacing blown brickwork below the waterline on this section. We also cut out the brickwork for the new ladder recess which was to be set into the lock as it was rebuilt, and continued the rebuild of the wall between the bridge and the lower gate recess.
Our next visit was to run the fourth week of six WRG Summer camps in early August. The first three weeks had moved the site on considerably, with the wall between bridge and gate recess fully rebuilt complete with coping stones, the lower gate recess demolished, and the first half of the southern wall up to coping level, not to mention progress around the northern upper wing wall, gate recess, paddle hole and spill weir culvert.
Our work was to continue the Southern wall rebuild, and to work on the dry-stone retaining walls of the spill weir. We also set the coping stones on the northern wall between the bridge and lower gate recess. As part of the wall rebuild, we had to cast a new quoin stone for the lower gate recess to replace an original stone which was too badly eroded to reuse. This process involves casting a block with a face of sharp-sand mortar bound into a concrete core. Once dry but still green, the shuttering is removed and the face is weathered with wire brushes and scutch hammers to give a pretty realistic stone effect.
We then returned for our September dig, to find the remaining WRG camps had completed the brickwork to coping level along the whole of the southern wall, including rebuilding the lower gate recess, and had set the coping stones from the ladder recess onwards. Our task was to haunch behind the coping stones with a concrete fillet and to continue backfilling behind the wall, while preparing the rest of the wall for coping stones. By the end of the weekend, we had set the quoin coping stone of the gate recess and positioned the rest of the coping stones for setting in October.
Our fifth and final visit to Inglesam in 2017 was our October dig weekend. The goal for the weekend was to complete the coping stones for the Southern wall, including the gate recess, and casting the new U-shaped coping stone for the ladder recess and one further replacement stone to complete the wall. Since the ‘stones’ need to be cast on one day, then faced on the next, it was imperative that the two new coping stones were cast on the Saturday, and given the complex shape of the ladder recess, this required some swift thinking and planning on Saturday morning to get the shuttering designed and put together ready to cast the stone in the afternoon.
By the end of the weekend, the Southern wall was complete all the way from the bridge to just short of the upper gate hinge. The upper gate hinge quoin coping stone was a datum for the survey of the site, and though it needed rebuilding, it and the last 15 feet or so of the chamber had to be left until the rest of the lock rebuild had been completed in order to preserve the datum point.