March 2019

Historic dock protected thanks to SPC Compounding, Avon Rubber and volunteers

A team of Canal & River Trust volunteers are working with Avon Impact Management, AIM, a part of Avon Rubber plc, and rubber manufacturers, SPC Compounding, on an innovative project to protect a section of the historic Kennet & Avon Canal.

Parts of the Kennet & Avon Canal are in need of repair to make sure that they are safe for people to use for years to come. Wooden railway sleepers designed to protect the sides of the canal hang from the Bradford on Avon Upper Wharf to prevent boats damaging the edges of the canal. But many of these wooden fenders are over 50 years old and are beyond repair.

AIM, based in Melksham and SPC Compounding in Westbury in Wiltshire, are working with the Canal & River Trust to design and install fenders made from rubber to replace the old wooden railway sleepers. The benefits of the rubber fenders include their long lifetime, their excellent impact properties, and the way in which Avon are able to tailor them for the project.

AIM have worked alongside a local rubber compounder SPC Compounding, to manufacture and supply 38 rubber fenders – at a length of 60 m for the Trust at no cost. The work will commence at the beginning of this week, with the Trust volunteers carrying out the work to install the fenders.

CRT has contributed £2,000 to the project for the rubber, with the Kennet & Avon Canal Trust also donating a similar amount to buy all of the fixings required.

Commenting on the project, Steve Manzi, Canal & River Trust volunteer development co-ordinator, said: “The Kennet & Avon Canal is arguably more popular than any time in living memory. It essentially relies on the technology that was used to build it 200 years ago, so we are constantly making improvements so that it can continue to be used. This is a great project with so many benefits. Avon have supplied us with the custom-designed fenders, and with the volunteers leading and managing the project it means that we can replace the old fenders and protect this part of the canal for many years to come. Without Avon and the volunteers we would really struggle to get this important repair work done”.

Luke Giles, Canal & River Trust volunteer leader, added: “We are really impressed with the AIM team. They have worked really closely with us on this project and even brought their whole team to see the site and discuss our requirements. They really understand what we need and have been helpful at all the different stages of this project.”