• CharlotteRothen

Llangollen Canal Banks on the Rothen Groups Expertise

When a storm battered the Llangollen Canal close to the Cheshire village of Marbury, heavy rain caused substantial damage to the canal wall. Emergency works were required to keep this busy stretch of canal navigable, and The Rothen Group was chosen to assist with the urgent project.


The Llangollen Canal links north Wales with south Cheshire, and is a popular route for boats and barges navigating the border between England and Wales. It is one of the most beautiful canals in Britain, traversing spectacular scenery that ranges from isolated sheep pastures, to tree-lined lakes, to the foothills of Snowdonia.


When Storm Miguel resulted in unseasonably heavy rain, a 20m section of the canal’s wash wall, close to Marbury, was damaged. This led to erosion of the embankment between the canal and river, requiring a rapid response to ensure the busy stretch of water could remain navigable.


Assessing the challenges

Upon assessing the damage, the Canal & River Trust (CRT) established it to be a piling job, and contracted Kier to undertake the project. However, traditional means of completing this type of work were not possible due to the rural location of the site. The necessary equipment was unable to be transported along the narrow towpath, which meant that it had to be floated to site.


Weight limits also dictated that repair work had to be done from the water, to avoid heavy machinery from further damaging the canal banks. A crane barge would have to be used, to carry and discharge materials to site, and complete the piling operation.


Mark Stephens, Project Manager at Kier, comments: “The nature and location of the site meant that what should have been a straightforward bank stabilisation job became a tricky exercise in logistics. Combine this with the fact that the canal is a popular route for members of the public, and the project quickly took on a whole new level of difficulty.”

Time is of the essence

In addition to the logistical challenges associated with working on a rural waterway, the repairs had to be completed swiftly to minimise disruption at what is a highly popular time of year for the Llangollen Canal.


Mark continues: “Emergency works are always more intense, because it means that everything has to be calculated as you go along. Methodology and risk control have to be managed on an ad-hoc basis, with very little time for planning.”


This combination of time pressure and the awkward location of the site necessitated the involvement of a marine and civil engineering specialist. Owing to its extensive fleet and ability to mobilise quickly, The Rothen Group (TRG) was chosen to help assist with the bank stabilisation works.


Rapid response

Within 24 hours of being contacted, TRG undertook a site visit, and mobilised its equipment ready to start works on the canal immediately. A 70ft crane boat was dispatched, accompanied by experienced staff to manage both the piling operations and the boats themselves.


The reach of the grab boat meant that it could carry out works at both the top and bottom of the bank, keeping the number of boats required for the project to just one. The canal was closed during the works, but access past the site was permitted at set times to prevent complete closure of the route. This also ensured boats didn’t go too fast and run the risk of damaging the wall further.


Ian Rothen, Founder of The Rothen Group, comments: “We knew that we had to mobilise efficiently, if we were to keep disruption of the Llangollen Canal to a minimum. As the project progressed, there was some extra work, such as grouting, that was required to effectively stabilise the bank.


“This meant that we had to be agile in our approach, and work closely with Kier and the CRT to respond to a complex situation. As a result, the project was completed efficiently and thoroughly, with the canal completely reopening within a month.”







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Ian Rothen Ltd Little Close, Quarry Lane, Mancetter, Atherstone, CV9 2RD   |   tel: 01827 215715  |   email: info@therothengroup.co.uk

The Rothen Group is a trading name of Ian Rothen Ltd | Company registration No: 8030064 | VAT Registration No: 138 1155 28

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