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Coir Rolls

on Cromford Canal
Birdswood with the Coir Rolls load

Throughout the summer and early autumn the Friends of Cromford Canal (FCC) work parties at Cromford and High Peak Junction have been concentrating on fitting the coir rolls. The focus initially was finding the best methods of getting the various component materials to the site, wherever it may have been on the Lawn Bridge to High Peak Junction section. The main components were the clay, donated by D. Collins earthworks, and the coir rolls – both being very heavy to transport down the towpath.

The clay was tipped in two locations, with one load at the rugby ground, with permission of the farmer, and the other at the Wharf Shed opposite Leawood Pump. This did help from a logistics point of view on the twenty or thirty barrow loads that we wheeled from Leawood. In the end Derbyshire County Council came to the rescue and brought the rest of the clay and some of their top soil to sites using the small tractor and trailer.

The coir rolls were initially wheeled down two at a time on the trolley which, whilst it worked, was slow and heavy work. Then we used Birdswood, on a non-working day, to transport nineteen rolls, as reported in the last Portal. When the nineteen were nearly used up we had to get some more supplies up to site, Birdswood wasn’t available so we loaded the work boat and punted the whole load up past the garden centre section (well Roger Goodliffe did). When we needed more, we loaded the work boat again, but this time the crew of Birdswood were approached and towed the supply up to just beyond the railway narrows for us. The empty work boat was then towed back by Birdswood, albeit slowly, because there was a problem with the water level.

Coir being delivered at Cromford ready for installation


In the second week of October the last three rolls were locked into position and back-filled.

Altogether the actual volunteer time on supply of materials, fitting and back-filling has taken 418 hours, with 70 hours recorded travel time. Administration for the grant, planning, the grant application and the final end of project report submitted at the end of September was 87 hours. This gave a final total of 575 volunteer hours for phase 1 of the DerwentWISE project.

A grant for a second phase from DerwentWISE has been achieved and will be used to put another fifty coir rolls in place, either doubling up on existing placements to increase height or moving further along and repairing positions in poor condition.

Thanks go to the whole team for their efforts and enthusiasm on a very heavy and difficult project and to the crews of Birdswood for putting up with us constantly asking for assistance. Also thanks to DCC for their help and Dave Savage at DerwentWISE for keeping me in line.

Article and images by John Guyler, Friends of Cromford Canal.

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