The big news of the last month is progress on the first phase of the canal at Draycott. We are now over half way through the latest stage and hoping to finish in mid-July. The contractors have also inserted gabion baskets and will concrete the moorings during the next few days. It may be a while before the boats arrive, but we’ll be ready for them! We are now looking at the planting of the banks. The key is to get sufficient planting and developed to feed and provide cover for the voles in October. The contractor will now plant the 3000 or so pre-grown plants and we will supplement with transplanted vegetation from the currently undisturbed areas further east. Keen gardeners are crucial to nurture the plants ahead of an assessment at the end of summer. We certainly don’t want to have to defer the second phase until 2022.
Staying with Draycott we’ve now moved on at the cottages and our painting teams can see the end. Now that all the cottages have been plastered we can finish the painting. Martin, Anne, Sarah and Maz have been very active and must have applied more than 200 litres of paint by now. Martin has taken charge of cleaning up the beams. He’s discovered marks in the main beam and is trying to work out what they mean. So if anyone recognises them please let us know.
In the cottages almost all of the plumbing is complete, with boilers, radiators and baths installed, but are still waiting for the tiler to get the floors complete. Stairs are being re-paired now that the messy trades have finished and we’ve started skirting. It’s a hive of activity and nearing completion—at last.
The café is also moving forward with floors almost complete and all the external doors fitted to the main building. And our external stairs have had the panels fitted – designed by David they show narrowboats — as you can see.
Can I also thank all those that have offered loans to sup-port the cottages. We have now reached the target, which means we can avoid external banks and the extra costs that would involve. Early indications are that the cottages should rent easily and generate a good monthly income to provide funding for the restoration generally.
Our working parties have been busy tidying up Borrowash ahead of the visit. It’s been touch and go and David’s been on tenterhooks waiting for the final clearance. The current position is that it is still on for the week commencing 1st August, but they won’t use the cottages (didn’t want to spoil the newly painted walls!) so will be limited to 14 in number.
Derby River Boat
It’s strange how things can change and this project has seen more than its fair share of “changes”. Our test cruise on the Trent highlighted that we needed to make changes to the propeller, so was well worthwhile. Meanwhile the extra requirements of the city council continued and we are gradually working through them, but aware that a requirement to go through planning again for the boarding platform would delay the launch by some months.
Suddenly, in the midst of this frustration it appears that Counsellors realised that they really wanted us to launch in the summer and political pressure was applied. We understand that a consultant is being appointed to smooth matters through. We wait to see just what transpires and in the meantime keep ticking off the list. Amazingly from this new interest in the canal we have been able to push for the council to provide promised funding for an Atkins study of the Derby Arm and river lock. We received the £40k funding within days. This should enable us to review the river lock and Arm activities planned and build a case for support by both commercial and public interests.
We get lots of support from the city, but it just seems to be difficult and time consuming to deliver on promises. For those of you interested in the development of Derby and its recovery from the pandemic you may wish to join the online Property Show on Weds 10th July. This normally attracts 100’s of visitors and Mike Wingfield, our Vice-Chairman, has been invited to sit on the panel commenting on schemes. It should get us some good publicity and push our city centre plans for the River Lock and canal boat basin.
Some of you may have noticed a bit more activity around Sandiacre Bottom Lock. As previously reported we are starting to get organised around the next stage.
With the cost of sewer diversion estimated at £200k we have been working to reduce that number with a reasonably helpful Severn Trent water management. Key to that is understanding what state the south wall is in. Would it collapse if we dug a trench behind it? Is there room for a sewer or are there buttresses to negotiate?
When you need someone to organise a dig, send for ace Archaeologist Gary. He’s been leading a team digging over the past few weeks to answer those questions and working out if we could save lots of money by digging the new trench ourselves. Trouble is you may need a bigger trowel for that Gary!
We were entertained by an excellent talk on the Montgomery Canal Restoration by Michael Limbury in June. It wasn’t as well supported as previous ones, but I think that has less to do with the topic and more to do with England choosing our meeting night to play football. It provided good insight into the challenges and possible benefits of working in an area with excellent wildlife credentials.
Our final meeting before the August break will be on Tuesday July 27th and will be a guided walk along our own canal around Draycott. We will cover the Draycott canal dig out, a visit to the Draycott cottages and, for the more energetic, the plans around the Navigation at Breaston. Meet at the cottages (where we hope to have some off street parking) at 6.30pm.