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Wessex Waterways

Restoration Trust

Hignett's Hole - The Story

    Why’s it called Hignett’s Hole I hear you cry! Well, in a time long, long ago a Chap called Richard Hignett was working with the canal restoration at Dauntsey Lock and volunteered to design and build a spill weir at the far end of Rachael Banyard’s section. It came in two parts. First was the pipe under the towing path which led to a circular settlement pond made from stacked concrete sections and secondly an overflow pipe leading downhill to a brick-built circular chamber set in a drainage ditch. He designed it, he built it so it was named in his honour – Simples!





    Now, fast forward 20 odd years and time has taken its toll on the poor old downhill chamber and the surrounding ditch. You see, when the main chamber over-fills and heads off downhill to the second chamber it does so at a lick. When it arrives at the second chamber it’s doing it so fast it billows out of the chamber and powers off down the ditch to annoy someone else. This powerful water action scoured the ditch embankment to such an extent that it had started to dismantle the brick chamber as well as washing away all the clay packing around the brickwork chamber.

    One fine Sunday this Spring, Rachael asked the working party to assist with tidying-up the area of Hignett’s Hole and during this tasking the problem was highlighted and a plan was hatched. A plan so cunning (to paraphrase Black Adder) that you could put a tail on it and call it a Weasel!  Now, in theory a repair seems quite simple but in practice there is a mountain of paperwork (Risk Assessments, Method Statements, insurance, emails to the Trust to obtain permission etc, etc) and then the Project (as it had by then become) had to be costed, ordered and paid-for and all the equipment/tools put into place.

    Now, if there’s one thing the Army taught me it was that ‘No plan survives contact with the enemy’ and so this proved to be the case. The job called for sandbags to be filled with dry sand and cement but the cement mixer would not start which meant doing it by hand in a wheel barrow. OK, we worked around the problem but then the dumper for transporting the filled bags to Site (about a quarter of a mile away) became unavailable. Once again, we worked the problem and used an excavator to slowly lug the bags and although it took three return journeys it went well. I think the crowning glory of the Project was using a motorway traffic cone with the pointy-end sawn off and mounted upside down through a ladder to fill the bags. It went superbly well and worked with an efficiency not matched by mixer and dumper – hurray for us!





      I would like to humbly thank the team; Gordon Williams, George Schmidt and Mike Knight for their efforts, advice and good humour in helping me bring this Project to its successful conclusion. Thank You!

Larry Finnegan 01 Sep 19