Stanley weir, built in the eighteenth century to power Stanley Cotton Mill, was originally constructed of boulders and later augmented with steel pilings and a concrete cap. Engineers at the time used a quick but effective technique – layering hessian bags of concrete pinned in place with long pointed steel spikes.
Unfortunately, as the structure ages and degrades, these layers are now crumbling or breaking off exposing the ends of these still exceptionally tough steel bars.
Responsibility for maintenance of the weir is not straightforward as many organisations have a stake. Historic Scotland (Stanley Mill owners), RWE nPower (the HEP operator), riparian landowners, Perth & Kinross Council and SEPA all have an interest. In 2013, and after lots of consultation, Perth Canoe Club cut and removed a canoe-full of exposed ironmongery.
However, the 2015 winter floods have wreaked havoc. Many more blocks, or whole chains or slabs of linked blocks, have been dislodged. As the river settles to its summer low these have appeared everywhere.
The longer term upkeep and future of the structure is still under discussion but we needed some remedial work done quickly to protect ourselves.
Some enterprising paddlers (notably Sandy Johnston and Alick Williams) capped many sharp tips with plastic pipe, but recognised that these will still form a snag hazard at higher water levels. More was needed.
SCA Access Committee contacted the stakeholders and RWE nPower stepped up to the plate and assigned Engineers Murray, Milo and Andy to the job. They used power tools to cut spikes above the surface (at 0.45m on the Ballathie gauge) all across the weir and invented some novel techniques such as working spikes back and forward with a scaffolding pole to snap them off below the surface. They even managed to recover a lost boat’s anchor lodged unnoticed just an inch below the surface in the left-most chute!
So we can report that the danger from spikes has been reduced for now, although some still remain they are well below low water levels and there is still substantial concrete debris in the eddy below the main middle chute. Stanley weir is in parlous condition so who knows what the next flood might dislodge… so please be careful playing here and if you see any new hazards please contact the SCA office who will be able to liaise with the relevant people to fix.
|Guy with Stihl Saw||Spikes|