If – like me – you are a regular user of Sydney Gardens you may have notice volunteers – working for the Canal and River Trust – have been busy removing tons of mud from abutments leading towards the ‘Sabrina head’ tunnel.
To be more precise they’ve been out on the waters of the Kennet and Avon Canal with a massive floating grabber – and it’s made quite a difference.
The buckets removing tons of clay from where it had been tipped.
In a separate story – elsewhere on the site – volunteer Ian Herve explains how they are trying to return the stretch through the gardens to how it would have looked on its original completion.
But today – Wednesday, February 7th – he tells me:
“The first phase is over.
CRT work-boat, the “Chew Valley” with the enthusiastic support of the Bath volunteer group and their work-boat “HINTON” have removed, over the last 5 days, an estimated 90 tonnes of clay from in front of the “Sabrina” tunnel facade.
You can just see the cleared abutment to the left of the Sabrina Head tunnel.
Two yew stumps that have been cluttering the view near the southern footbridge for the last few years have also been taken from the site and left to decay in a less intrusive spot.
The cleared abutment – alongside the footbridge – from which the two yew stumps have been removed.
Comparing the view as seen in Nash’s 1927 painting, which shows some deposits already in place, I think we can say that this wonderful facade has not been seen like this for at least 100 years.
We will now let the area dry out for a few months and then begin the recovery of the stonework. This in consultation with CRT’s Heritage advisors.
The volunteers had to remove vegetation growing on top before attacking the mud pile.
How it looks now it has been cleared.
This is, I think, a great example of how CRT and their volunteers combine to take on work that would not be done otherwise.”
Most of the mud piles were left over from the restoration work done in the late 70’s and 80’s which re-opened John Rennie’s87-mile long waterway – originally built between 1794 and 1810.