Gorgeous Gordon

As all boaters know, winter is always the time for boat repairs and refurbishment, ready for the coming season. We are no different, but this year we have changed the company colours from Burgundy and Gold to Blue and White, so our weedboat Gordon had a refit of all wearing parts and a respray. As you can see from the pictures, Gordon is looking resplendent in the new company colours ready for the coming season of work in London for Fountains OCS. The boat can be seen working around the capital from May onwards, but the crews particularly enjoy working up the Regents Canal through Camden and Little Venice where there is always plenty of banter with people on the towpath and in the canal side pubs and restaurants.We have two weedboats built to our own requirements, Gordon is based in London and Jenny operates from our yard in Somerset. Between them they work all over the country from the Broads to the Manchester ship canal keeping lakes, rivers and waterways clear of aquatic weed which is cut and collected ready for disposal.  

Skunk Puns Stink

For the third year running, we are about to carryout control of American Skunk Cabbage at a site in the New Forest. This work is part of the invasive non-native species control as part of the Heritage Lottery Funded New Forest ‘Our Past, Our Future’ Landscape Partnership Scheme. American skunk cabbage is a large, imposing perennial producing paddle-shaped leaves up to 1.5 metres tall and yellow arum-like flowers in spring that are spectacular but foul-smelling (hence the name). Originally, from western North America, it was widely available from garden centres and nurseries for planting besides ponds and in bog gardens. It spreads vigorously in wet woodland, wetlands and ditches, forming dense stands that out-compete native vegetation by shading and smothering. Reproduction by seed in the wild is frequent. It has been reported in at least 10 EU countries. Under the EU Invasive Alien Species Regulation, it is an offence in the UK  to intentionally keep, cultivate, bred, transport, sell or exchange this species or intentionally release it into the environment. Furthermore, the UK is required to take all necessary steps to prevent its unintentional introduction or spread. The large site presents awkward access bordering a lake and approximately 1 hectare of boggy woodland, requiring a long walk in full PPE with a heavy Knapsack sprayer. Due to the densities of the plants, we have used spray paint to mark individual plants and a flag system to help navigate the woodland. Our aim is to treat the plants before they have a chance to set seed. In this way, we will control the population and see it reduce year on year.

All Change in the Workshop

Currently our workshops in Crewkerne are in a state of upheaval. All the machines are being moved and a new overhead gantry crane is being installed to facilitate moving larger pieces of steel and completed fabrications. The steel racks and storage areas are being re-sited to make more room and division walls being erected to properly segregate the woodworking areas and metal working areas. During the autumn the lighting, heating and local exhaust ventilation were all upgraded to improve the working environment in the buildings. Through all the disruption the fabricators are busy trying to finish off projects for customers. Our workshops make all sorts of galvanised mild steel items, from debris screens to bridges, as well as bespoke stainless-steel fabrications such as equipment housings and flood gates. The woodworkers are always busy with jetties and bridges as well as preparing intricate pieces of form work to support the site teams. The intention is that after this refurbishment the workshops will be able to extend the scope of their activities and produce more finished fabrications for our customers.

Kingcombe Splash back into 2018

Construction is almost complete at our latest splash park in Gadebridge Park, Hemel Hempstead.   The large interactive water play design includes 55 in-ground water features, including the new Glow Domes supplied by our American partner Water Odyssey™ and 57 individual spotlights. The park is home to a roman villa first uncovered in the 1960’s, (http://www.dacorumheritage.org.uk/article/the-gadebridge-roman-villa) so great care had to be taken in early stages of the project, with an archaeologist  being present on site during the excavation phase. There was no discovery of further artefacts or buildings, so work has proceeded smoothly. Inspired by the Roman heritage, an amphitheatre surrounds the top play area, this includes a power supply so that the space can be used as an event zone when the splash park is not in use. The glow domes and lights also mean that opportunities are endless for a variety of evening uses. We are very excited to see the finished article, with the grand  opening scheduled for May.

Brentford CRT Hangar

“Gordon” the Kingcombe Aquacare weed harvester, was directed to the Brentford area to clear up large infestations of the problematic weed. This non-native invasive species originally from North America, has spread across the UK since the 1980s and has the potential to grow a staggering 20cm per day. Non-native invasive species, are considered the second greatest threat to native wildlife and they cost the UK economy as a whole up to £1.7 billion a year. By stopping the spread at an early stage, it is much more cost effective than attempting to control species once it has become established. The Aquatractor with its moving bed and side cutters, takes no time to cut and remove the Floating Pennywort and place it in the waiting hopper barges. Once the bulk has been removed, we would recommend careful hand removal of fragments, followed up with a herbicide application where necessary.

Borehole Refurbishment

We have recently been tasked with carrying out refurbishments and upgrade works to a number of borehole head works. A borehole is a narrow shaft drilled into the ground, vertically or at an angle for a number of purposes such as water extraction, gas or petroleum extraction, mineral exploration, site assessment, geotechnical investigation, groundwater monitoring and a number of other purposes. The borehole may be a few meters or hundreds of meters deep. Typically the hole is drilled into an aquifer and then lined with a solid pipe over part of its depth and then a mesh screen or filter pipe to support the bore and keep the hole open through fissured rock, sands or gravel. The head works can take various forms, from simply a steel pipe protruding from the ground, to a walk in kiosk set on a concrete base. Most commonly, monitoring boreholes tend to be accessed via a shallow chamber with a removable access cover. Artesian boreholes occur when the aquifer in to which they are drilled is under pressure. This is usually due to the confinement of the aquifer beneath an impermeable layer which is at a lower level than the hydrostatic equilibrium of the aquifer as a whole. Aquifers can occur at any depth but for monitoring purposes in the UK boreholes are commonly drilled to depths of 10m – 90m. One of the deepest boreholes ever drilled is the Kola Superdeep in Russia. This borehole was drilled in the 1970”s by the Soviet Union as part of a scientific experiment and achieved a depth of 12,262m – that’s over seven and a half miles! The boreholes we help to maintain are used by our client to monitor groundwater levels. Groundwater level data is an important aid for flood forecasting as the more water that is in the ground, the less rain water can be absorbed. High groundwater levels can also mean high river levels and therefore less drainage capacity. It is also useful to know when groundwater levels are low, as this can often indicate the possibility of an impending water shortage. The groundwater level has traditionally been measured by lowering a weighted tape measure with two electrodes in the bottom of the weight down the borehole tube. When the weight touches the water, the circuit is completed and a buzzer on the tape reel sounds. The depth is measured against a fixed datum point. Many boreholes now are fitted with telemetry systems which enable the groundwater levels to be monitored remotely and consistently, with a reduced requirement for manned site attendance. We are often tasked with the modification of existing borehole head works to enable the installation of automated measuring and telemetry systems.