The first week in August saw the East Vale Team assembled in a field close to Childrey New Road bridge. The purpose was to rebuild part of the long defunct and collapsed Childrey Wharf. We were blessed with a week of near perfect weather; the only serious rain occurring at night and that only damped the ground slightly. With the goodwill of the two adjacent landowners a small camp was set up in the field next to the wharf and fresh water was made available (this ensured that the teapot did not run dry).
The wharf, estimated to have originally been over three hundred feet long, was in varying states of decay. In places it had disappeared completely, while elsewhere a section (approx 30 feet) had been rebuilt during the 1991 Big Dig. When work began earlier this year all traces of the wharf had been hidden by thick vegetation, and just clearing this was a major task in itself.
The wharf was constructed in 30 feet sections with protruding ‘rubbing’ stones as dividers. Theses smooth stones were apparently there to prevent the narrowboats from being damaged by the rougher stones used in the construction of the wharf wall.
The initial work consisted of clearing all the loose stonework and providing new foundations using a mixture of original stone and concrete blocks. While this was being done another team set about casting new coping stones to line the top. As far as possible the top layers of the wharf wall, which will be above the water level, were built using only original stone. Behind the facing wall more stone was packed and this was embedded in concrete to ensure a solid structure.
It was a long, but enjoyable, week, with team members turning up as circumstances allowed. One special mention must be made of our mixer-in-chief, Richard, who probably never wants to see another shovelful of sand or cement again.
We achieved what we set out to do, and after a quick tidy up and a bit of landscaping on the final Saturday the Team settled down to a celebratory bar-b-que.
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