September has been the start of the realisation of the dream. During the past 4-5 years it sometimes seemed like Mission Impossible, well it is now Mission Happening. We have an access trackway from the main road and perhaps to the greatest relief of all, a roadway has been constructed down the steep gulley allowing machinery and material access to the actual construction site. It is amazing what the team have done with a few buckets and spades—we’ve just photoshopped in the digger image to make it look professional!!!

Access track installation
The stone to construct the track is “Pink Sandstone” from the Bridestone Quarry just a couple of miles to the east of Congleton, near Timbersbrook in the lee of the Bosley Cloud, and has been transported to the site by tractor and trailer.

Bridestone Quarry takes its name from a Neolithic monument which stands at the entrance to the quarry. It is believed to date from around 3500-2400 BC and is thought to be the remains of a much larger tomb which once existed on the site. The Bridestones is unique as no other example of such a monument is known to exist in England.

There are several suggestions to where the name ‘Bridestone’ originates including the suggestion that a newly married couple were buried at the site and the tomb was erected to mark their grave.
In centuries past, much of the stone was used in the construction of the road which links the two towns of Leek and Congleton. The Bridestones stands tall at the entrance to the quarry, a distinct testimony to the longevity of the stone which is still quarried at The Bridestones.

Further information on this ancient site can be found via https://www.megalithic.co.uk/article.php?sid=473021467

Progress has rapidly continued with the construction of the “cofferdam” (photo below) which forms the “buffer” to allow the deep trench to be excavated for the insertion of the inlet pipe which will feed the upstream flow into the Archimedes Screw. Last months newsletter looked at the technicalities of the inlet pipe and the use of Weholite. The Weholite pipe has already been delivered and its profile can be seen in the photo below.

The Weholite pipe has already been delivered

The background to the site geology, development, civil works and construction techniques etc can be found in the detailed article, click the button to download.

As site construction proper gets underway, no doubt we fill find some hidden issues, CTC, the civils construction company hopes to make good progress and possibly recover some of the time lost due to the delayed start-up, so all, please keep fingers crossed for reasonably fine weather!!

The 1km cable linking the generator site to Siemens has now been completed by Duttons, leaving just the final connection to the incoming circuit breaker at Siemens and the last 90meter from Havannah Lane to the generator output (this will be completed after the construction of the Boardwalk).

On the Electrical/Control System front, the Variable Speed Drive and PLC based control system has been powered up (capacitors re-formed!) and re-programmed with the data compiled relating to our system e.g. water level sensors, rotational speed sensors, sluice gate control etc. This hopefully will then make the fine-tuning commissioning on-site more straightforward.

Flender, in Leeds, is making good progress on the re-configuration of the gearbox and generator and Landustrie are well on with the manufacture of the “guts of the system” –The Archimedes Screw.

We have positioned a “wildlife” frequent frame camera on-site, mounted high up in one of the trees. More by good luck than judgement, its setup has been delivering some good photos of the site development. the logical place to store these images for your viewing would be on the website.

However, this is currently being redeveloped (you will I’m sure be really impressed in a few weeks when it goes “live”), so in the meantime, view latest project pictures our Facebook page.

A future “Technical article “ will take an in-depth look at the whole of the “Power Train” i.e. Archimedes Screw, Variable Speed Drive, Gearbox and Generator” including some of the mathematics that underpins the whole conversion from water power to electrical power.

The Archimedes Screw under Construction

The Education Programme

The Congleton Hydro Scheme, as well as generating “Clean Energy” and realising annual funds for Environmentally/Sustainability-based community projects, will also facilitate increased awareness of environmental and sustainability issues by the provision of an accessible Education Resource for local schools, colleges and community groups.

To properly realise these educational aspirations, we have developed an Education Plan. Whilst we recognise the potential educational value of our Hydro Scheme, so does the Local Authority (Cheshire East) who made the production (and subsequent implementation of such a plan) one of the planning approval conditions.

One of the core outcomes is to produce Green Champions who will be better able to inform the future generations and the wider depth and breadth of local (and wider) communities.

The realisation of such an ambitious plan demands sufficient resource and we have been fortunate to secure a substantial grant from DEFRA’s Regional Community Energy Fund (RCEF). This grant enables us to have funds to develop and purchase hardware and software that will be needed to realise some of the educational modules. STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) is a key underpinner of the performance of the Hydro Scheme and it is only natural that the same will apply to some of the educational modules.  A copy of the Education Plan is available to download below, please read, it really is a driver for the future.

Whilst our own budgeted provisions, substantially enhanced by the RCEF funding give great support to the start-up costs of providing and generating the necessary hardware and software, the Human Resource to develop and the deliver these educational modules is woefully insufficient. However, this presents some great opportunities for Volunteers to get involved and help realise the ultimate goal of developing the Green Champions of the Future. The initially proposed range of modules and the key deliverables are covered in the attached education plan; however, these are embryonic and can be substantially further developed and enhanced to suit the “Customer base”.

To help develop and later on deliver the programme, we would welcome interest from a wide base of interested volunteers. Retired Educators – continuing to use your skills and experience, Younger Volunteers – opportunities to learn how to prepare and present material to the wider public—young and old.

Will really suit people who are enthusiastic and interested in contributing ideas and skills to design and deliver the agreed education programme. The metrics associated with the RCEF grant, call for a good degree of development progress by the end of the year, so we are keen for some volunteers to be able to join us as soon as possible. An Education Volunteer Role Description is attached to this newsletter.

It is for broad guidance of the requirements but not pedantically prescriptive. Although covered in the role description, if you are interested please contact info@congletonhydro.co,uk and we will get back to you in a short time.

Additionally, if you require further information/clarification before applying to join us, please contact Peter Lane or Bob Owen via info@congletonhydro.co.uk

On the wider Volunteer opportunities associated with the operation and maintenance of the Hydro project, we are at last making progress with identifying potential roles. Whilst a future newsletter will take a more detailed look at the wider Volunteer programme an initial list of “headline roles/responsibilities” is attached.

Some of these become “operational” once the hydro is up and running, whilst some admin activities would add value more or less immediately. Detailed Volunteer Role Descriptions are in the process of being produced for all roles (similar to the attached education role description), together with a volunteer induction programme, volunteer policy and so on. As mentioned, this will be covered in more depth in a future issue but in the meantime, we welcome your interest via info@congletonhydro.co.uk

Our thanks to all who have already contacted us with an interest in volunteering, we will be getting in touch with you in the near future to arrange a discussion via Zoom or Skype. Please bear with us, like yourselves, we are all volunteers but most of our time tend to get focussed on bringing the core project to fruition (i.e. wielding the buckets and spades!!!)

As with previous newsletters, we hope you have found this edition to be of interest and informative. We would welcome any feedback and suggestions for improvement, future topics etc.

So, until next month, please stay safe, take care and please, please keep your fingers crossed for decent weather!

As mentioned earlier, this month’s “Topic of Interest” looks at the Geology of the site and the constructional techniques (and constraints) that are being used to bring the scheme to fruition. We hope you find it of interest and informative. If you require further information or have any questions. please contact David Page via info@congletonhydro.co.uk

Congleton Hydro Team
Dane Valley Community Energy Ltd (FCA Registration 7142)