A Tale of Two Slipways

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A Tale of Two Slipways...

 

Work in Progress on the ‘Old’ Slipway in Winter 1964

In the mid 60s a group of club members decided to upgrade the club facilities and construct a slipway. A site was selected close to the Scout hut, pumps were hired and installed at the bridge, stop planks inserted and the arm pumped out but a problem was encountered in that the site of the proposed slipway was below the level that could be pumped from the bridge. So another pump was installed that discharged down the main road! It snowed but with true determination the job was seen through. This slipway served until 1995 when it was realised that because the size and weight of boats had increased a new slipway was necessary. There was also the matter of two near accidents with people getting steel boats out on the old slipway.

 

Close up of the Dam's construction

Plans were laid; the arm was to be pumped out again, learning from previous experience the low point in the arm would also be pumped but not discharged onto the road this time! Plan A was to have the arm dry in one day, construct a dam to seal off the site of excavations, rip out the old slipway from the bottom using a knackered JCB that we had acquired. Then allow the water back in, to be held back by the dam and work dry behind the dam; estimated time to finish 2 weeks. That was the plan – it didn’t work out like that. We couldn’t get a good seal on the stop planks so when the diesel pumps were switched off over night in deference to our neighbours the arm refilled - and  it snowed! The dam construction took almost two weeks of full time work and when the remnant of the arm was re-flooded it also leaked. By then we were on to plan C or was it E. Instead of starting at the bottom we would start at the top and work

The Dam and Slipway summer 1995

down to the lowest point, pumping successively lower. Eventually the dam was made sufficiently watertight and an electric pump acquired to dewater the section of the arm behind it overnight, leaving the final few feet to the three diesel pumps in a BW workboat to finish the job and keep down the leakage. This scheme worked well and construction could proceed.

A regular system was developed, we poured about a metre cube of concrete on Saturday morning. Then we excavated ready for the next weekend’s pour of concrete. The heavy work was done by the JCB whose engine had to be constantly coaxed to do another few hours. Different gangs worked on Sunday, usually doing the shuttering which in the early stages often collapsed. By trial and error we got it working smoothly and all through the summer, autumn and into winter the work continued. Removing the old slipway was a major job which was done piecemeal, how we would have coped without

Arm Dry with ‘New’ Slipway in Background

the loan of a lot of WRG equipment and heavy steel pipes from one of the gang’s employers we will never know. Then there was the day the end of the dam almost collapsed. This was averted by tipping loads of spoil which was a major headache to remove when the job was finally finished. But finished it was and then all we had to do was remove the dam. Well by now we almost needed the services of 617 squadron and some of the scaffold tubes are there to this day. In the final stages it rained and rained then it snowed again but it was finished, taking almost 12 months.  Clearing up took several weeks, construction of the railway and trolley to slip the boats on took another month or so.

 

There was no topping out ceremony or official opening; we were all glad that it was finally finished.

Oh but hasn’t it been an asset!

By Those Involved.

 

 
 

Pumping the Arm Dry

 

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This page was last updated 01 March, 2005                                                              Visits Since February 2004: