Following David Dalley’s kind tipoff, as soon as I could, I cycled over to Anglesey Basin to check out what was happing in person. It’s not often I get chance to do the roving reporter thing, and this looked interesting.
When I got there at about 3:45pm, he canal was indeed dammed at Wharf Lane Bridge, employing the damming slots I mentioned in the original post. Wooden planks with a covering polythene sheet were holding back the waters, and the basin side was about 18 inches lower than the mainline. The dam was steadily leaking, but enough had clearly been removed for the purposes required.
As I approached the basin, a couple of stranded butties lay at oblique angles on the mud (buttes are unpowered vessels for holding, in this case, dredging spoil and are towed behind powered craft). Clearly unscheduled, this drain had taken place in a hurry.
I looked in vain for the dredger, and passing the outflow to the crane brook, chaps in wetsuits were clearing debris from the culvert. As I neared the basin, I saw the dredger – the right way up this time, but still clearly swamped – laid in against the bank and a couple of buttes. A large excavator was employed as a crane, hoisting the working end of the boat straight using lifting chains. I asked a nearby engineer what the situation was.
It seems that as part of the dam works, the basin is to be dredged. In the process of this, the dredger, which, when working sits on outriggers like a road crane, fell over for some reason when unattended. The engineer suggested that either one of the feet had sunk into the silt, or a pump had possibly failed, or even vandals may have caused the capsize. The canal had been drained to facilitate the salvage of the boat, he explained, but was being complicated by the concerns environmental advisors monitoring the condition of the canal.
The water level had been lowered to get as much water out of the dredger as possible, it was then pulled upright with the excavator, and attempts were made to refloat it. As I left, water was being pumped out of the boat and the workers were discussing raising the water level again. Clearly, not a great way to spend Saturday.
It was certainly worth going for a look – I was not aware of how this kind of operation was carried out. It’s not often you get chance to see a canal drained, either. Certainly an interesting thing – cheers to David for the headsup.