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Working sessions
Because we shall be involved in developing and testing our flood plan in January, February and March and because it looks like continuing to be very cold, we have decided to delay our outdoor activities until April. We also hope to involve the community pay back team again. As they need to work a full day the plan is to have a couple of full days and some half days over a shorter period.



Saturday 8th October
Despite the rugby World Cup and the failure of the Community Pay Back team, we had a good turn out of villagers to tackle the brambles at the back of Alfreds Close in East Hanney. The brambles were covering a drainage ditch and formed an impenetrable barrier. Thanks to Nick and Trevor who brought along some petrol powered cutters, we were we able to clear the route and made a neat but very large pile of the cut brambles. The exposed ditch appeared to be by eye to go uphill, but this can only be checked by surveying equipment. We have sent photographs of our work to those concerned and hope they can do a survey and carry out some modifications. We are not convinced the ditch was ever done correctly when Alfreds Close was first built but this is difficult to say without any survey data. It may mean redigging the ditch or coming up with another solution if the gradients are inadquate. We will keep you posted on progress.

Some pictures of the work:    [View photo 1]    [View photo 2]    [View photo 3]    [View photo 4]

Saturday 10th September
The combination of a poor weather forecast and the England Rugby team playing their first game of the World Cup series undoubtedly contributed to only a small group of Iain, Paul, Hillary and Alan turning out for this months working session. That said, the group quickly got to work tackling the significant build-up of vegetation, fallen branches and lots more besides that had accumulated in the stretch of Childrey Brook to the north of West Hanney. The most noteworthy find of the day was dredging up part of an old hand-plough. The conditions were very sticky with the water virtually stagnant in parts. This meant some of the team experienced a very sinking feeling whilst working in deep mud at times during the session. This is different to when working in the Letcombe Brook with its relatively stable hard gravel bed. The team managed to clear a very respectable 1km stretch of Childrey Brook. Special thanks go to Iain Green for using his 4x4 to tow the equipment trailer through the field to our starting point, thus saving valuable time and effort.

Saturday 13th August
Thanks to everyone. We had a good session tackling the Himalayan Balsam along the stream edge behind Brookside and clearing out the strom water drain outlet. The amount of weed in the brook seemed a lot less than we expected and it is belived that the swans we have seen recently are eating it! Lets hope they stay and bring their friends.

Saturday 16th July
Thanks to everyone who helped. We were joined by the Community Pay Back team organised by Alan and we did some weed removal and Himalayan Balsam clearing of a good stretch between Lower Mill and Dandridges Mill whilst another team worked downstream of Lower Mill. We also had good sunshine which was very pleasant.

Saturday 18th June
Thanks to everyone who helped. We had a very hard session having a go at the storm water drains in West Hanney, working from 9:00 to 4pm.
Firstly we removed a 4 inch layer from the bottom of the open ditch at the corner of winter land and main street. The mud was very clay like and had been baked into almost building block slabs. Even though we have had a fair amount of rain in the last week this clay was quite solid and was very dense. We then passed a rope along the drain running along main street to the first man hole. we fitted our scrapper cone and were able to clear this drain completely. It sounded very wet in the middle so we think the drain dips down in the middle as both ends were dry.
We next tackled the large drain running along Winter lane from the open ditch to the first man hole. This took quite a long time to get a rope all the way, It must be over 45m long. We then got the scrapper cone working pulling soil toward the open drain. This drain was about 6-8 inches deep in a very dense, sticky clay. It was very hard work pulling the cone through and even getting the sticky clay out of the cone was hard. In the afternoon we had set up a good system and cleared a significant amount of this first section of drain. At the end of the day we had filled a small skip with clay!    [View photo]

We think that the heavy clay in the pipes looks like it has been there a long time and is very compacted. If the rest of the winter lane pipe is the same then there is another skip load of clay to be removed. After a lot of trial and error we did get a system that worked but is was very hard work. Operating from an open ditch is good, the next section would be from 2 manholes and this would be significantly harder and would take longer. The trial clean we did of the pipe under winter lane last month was very encouraging, here the soil was quite loose and more like soil from a garden. Doing this 45m section along winter lane was very different. Here the sticky clay made life very difficult and the long length also made it had work. There is the possibility of using high pressure water to clean out the drains but we are not sure where all the clay would end up. We were keen to try and clear this large amount of soil ourselves but we think that it may be just too difficult for us. We will continue to liaise with Oxfordshire Highways to sort out a long term solution. Thanks to Oxfordshire Highways who paid for the skip and the drain rods. Thanks again to everyone who helped during the day, we know that for the early crew it seemed that we were getting nowhere, but your preparation work paid off and the afternoon team did get a routine going and cleared a large amount of clay from the pipe.

Keith Diement took some pictures of the work.    [Link to photos]

Saturday 14th May
This months working party split into 4 groups. The main party consisting of the community pay back team led by Alan Miles headed off to work on the Letcombe brook upstream of Dandridges Mill. They pulled out a substantial number of fallen branches and other wood and completed almost the complete length of Weir farm. Thanks to the 6 community pay back people, their supervisor Dave as well as our own team of Alan, Ian, Paul, Sue, Jason and Patrick.
Paul, Ian and Stewart headed to West Hanney and had a go at clearing out one of the surface water drains under Winter Lane. We made a steel collecting device and this worked very well. We collected about 5 bags of soil from this one pipe which is now completely clean.
Meurig and Jackie did some light weed management downstream of the iron bridge and Philippa and Clive removed some of the stinging nettles again downstream of the iron bridge.

Saturday 9th April
We enjoyed wonderful warm weather and blue sky for a first session of the year. One team removed some of the weed between the iron bridge and Lower Mill by pass and one team removed a large stone slab from the stream and re-laid this into the footpath next to the other stone slabs. A big thanks to Iain, Ian, Steve, Alan, Nick, Nick, David, Hilary, Kathy, Richard and Stewart. Particularly to Kathy who supplied the home-made cookies for our break time.

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