As with all projects of this nature, even when you think the main reconstruction is complete, there are still a huge number of finishing off jobs and site tidy up / shut down that are required to actually complete the project, and these often have complex critical paths. So it was that 2019 still required six visits from Kescrg to complete the project, even though there were no tasks individually big enough to accommodate a full WRG summer camp.
Our first visit came in April, and this year the weather was kinder to us, meaning site was accessible rather than an island in the Thames flood plain. The main task for this weekend was to install metal stop plank groove liners and cast the reinforced concrete stop plank cill above the lock. This involved removing the original wooden cill, which was no mean feat given it was a solid beam of timber – probably elm, embedded into the walls by a good foot on each side. However once removed, the cill area was excavated and reinforcing bent to shape, the grooves installed and grouted in and the concrete pour was completed by the Sunday afternoon.
Another task for the weekend was to reset the metal hinge liner on the north wall, as now that the cill had been cast it was found that it had been set too high during the September dig. The south side hinge liner was also set up. Since the hinge quoin stones on this side were too badly eroded to reuse, the hinge liner had to be installed first so new stones could be cast later, with the hinge liner forming an integral part of the shuttering.
With another long weekend planned for the late May bank holiday with the aim of removing the scaffolding back to storage by the Sunday evening, it became clear that the critical path for completing the coping stones on the south chamber wall required an extra day before the main weekend. So a small team came together for the Sunday of the early May bank holiday weekend to cast the first stone behind the hinge quoin and complete the brickwork on the south wall and in the gate recess so it would be strong enough to take the weight of the coping stones when they were set.
And so to the third and final long late May bank holiday weekend dig. The aim was to complete all the structural work on the lock, remove the scaffolding back to storage in Brimscombe port, and set up the barrow hoist for the final clearance of the chamber of the rubble, detritus and lost tools that had inevitably fallen in during the rebuild.
This required that the final coping stones were placed on the south wall on the Friday; the new hinge quoin coping stone and one other replacement stone on the wall cast on the Saturday so they could be faced on the Sunday, before the final bays of scaffolding were removed; then on the Sunday eight more stones cast in the upper gate recesses and upper wing walls, including around the stop plank grooves, so these could be faced up on the Monday. All the while the scaffolding was being removed further down the lock, sorted, and returned to storage.
Needless to say, by the Sunday evening, all the scaffolding was safely sorted and stored in the warehouses at Brimscombe port, and by the Monday afternoon, all the coping stones had been faced up, the site largely cleared and work had even begun doing the final chamber clearance. An incredible effort to completely rebuild the lock structure from the first bit of pointing on the Summer camp in 2016 to last coping stone in May 2019 – under 3 years later.
With the structure complete, there was still the backfill and landscaping behind the north wall and final section of the south wall to complete. Also, the bottom stop planks needed removing and reseating, and the chamber still needed a final clear out of rubble and debris from the rebuild. There was also a small obelisk to be built, which will display commemorative plaques to celebrate all the groups and individuals who helped to finance, organise and rebuild the lock. So we returned for a very hot June dig weekend, again held over 4 days – and some of us got very muddy in scenes reminiscent of the original chamber clearance several years earlier…
With the structure and landscaping complete, there was still one final weekend – there always is…. so in September, we returned with London WRG to install fencing and do a final site tidy up.
Kescrg are incredibly proud to have been able to support and contribute to this project, financed and lead by the IWA, managed by Rick Barnes, logistically masterminded by Jenny Morris and the team at WRG head office, and enabled in no small part by the cooperation and understanding of Nic in the Round House and cottage.
Please note that there is no public access to Inglesham lock or the canal beyond.