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Gloucester Docks &
the Sharpness Canal
On 3 March 2006,
commercial barge traffic returned to the Gloucester & Sharpness
Canal after an absence of many years. The motor barge Perch carried a cargo of
sand to the CEMEX concrete plant at Two Mile Bend, raising what
turned out to be false hopes of a long term programme of such movements.
Cargo of Sand
Motor barge Perch had collected her
cargo from the CEMEX aggregate processing plant at Ryall, near Upton
upon Severn, some 18 miles up the River Severn from Gloucester.
Raw aggregate extracted from a quarry near Ripple, two miles
to the south, was taken by barge to the processing plant, where
it was washed and separated into various grades of gravel and sand.
Perch, a former mud hopper now owned by Thompson River Transport,
is normally to be seen on the short haul movements between Ripple
and Ryall. For the inaugural trip to the concrete plant at Two Mile
Bend, she was carrying 150 tonnes of the grade of sand suitable
for making concrete.
Although built beside the canal, the
concrete plant at Two Mile Bend (pictured right) has so far only
been served by road. Transport by barge would help to relieve traffic
congestion in an environmentally friendly way whilst working in
harmony with the waterway's role as an important leisure facility.
Over the next 10 years it was hoped that this operation would save
over 340,000 lorry journeys, and the fuel consumed by a single freight
barge would be one fiftieth of that required by a single lorry.
at Two Mile Bend
The first cargo of sand was discharged
at a newly cleared area to the south of the concrete plant. This
land was reclaimed many years ago by filling in the former timber
pond used by Morelands for storing poplar logs that were to be made
into match splints. Although Perch was used for this inaugural
trip, it was hoped that the regular traffic to Two Mile Bend would
be handled by the larger barge Transient travelling twice
a week. Unfortunately Transient was found to be too
large for the current state of the river above Gloucester, and
there have been no further movements of aggregate by barge.
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