Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Coalbrookdale Watercourses

The restoration of the Upper Forge sluices are proceeding very quickly now. Scaffolding has been erected within the sluice outfall - partly to provide a working platform, and partly to ensure the integrity of the structure. The present stage involves digging out the debris to the east of the sluices to install a new culvert along the line of the old one.

With the full force of the water now diverted through the sluices, the term 'water power' has certainly become meaningful again!

The sluice outflows into the culvert which takes the water down to Rose Cottage.

Building up the levelling layer to support the culvert pipe.

The new culvert outflow will be at about the level of the scaffolding on the left.

Outflow of a drain which probably pre-dated the culvert.

This work co-incides with our current excavations at Wednesbury. Please have a look at our main blog site to see the evidence for eighteenth century water power which we have revealed there.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Upper Forge Sluices

Engineering work has finally commenced on the final phase of the Coalbrookdale Watercourses Project. Previous work on the New Pool and Upper Furnace Pool will be followed this summer by the restoration of the Upper Forge Sluices and the final renovation of the Upper Forge Picnic Site (Boring Mill), also the scene of the excavations last summer.

View from the road. The large tube is for temporary diversion of the flow during the work.

At the moment the main task is simply getting into the sluices site. Although all the trees were cut down last year (and you can now see the railway retaining wall very clearly [above]), there is a lot of earth and other material to move out of the way before consolidation work can start.

This photo was taken last year and shows the present condition of the sluices.

In summer 2005 we undertook an evaluation on behalf of the Borough of Telford and Wrekin to find out what remained of the original overflow structure at the sluices. We discovered a long-forgotten stretch of specially-designed overflow weir, with an arched spillway leading into a former culvert. The results of our archaeological work have been used to help design the final engineering solution.

Artists impression of the final result - reconstruction of the overflow weir and reinstatement of the culvert. Lots of work to do before we get to this stage!

We will be closely monitoring this project over the next couple of months, as it will provide us with an important understanding of the development and phasing of the Upper Forge Pool and associated sluices. More information will be uploaded here shortly.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Visit of the Royal Archaeological Institute

We were very pleased to recieve a visit from the Royal Archaeological Institute on Friday and Saturday. After a lecture on recent archaeological work in Ironbridge on the Friday night, the 40-strong party ventured up Coalbrookdale on a damp Saturday morning and visited the scene of the Upper Forge excavations. We also visited Blists Hill and Coalport.

For the lecture I produced an interpretive overlay of one of the 'aerial' photos. The original is shown here...

...and the interpretive one here. Red shows the surviving elements of the steel furnace phase, blue shows those elements of the malthouse, and yellow shows the remains of the tenements (or at least those that were left after we had finished!).