By the end of October last year, the waterwheel, gearbox and motor-generator had all been installed on the structural steelwork previously bolted to the granite bedrock by the designers and constructors, Smith Engineering of Maryport.

We have taken up the generous offer of the Worthington family to provide timber from their woodland at nearby Dalegarth for the launder which will take water to the new wheel, saving the Trust some £5,000.  However the winter weather was atrocious, with probably the most persistent rain and winds in living memory.  This made the felling and abstraction of timber (by Ronnie Phizacklea and Johnny Crow) very difficult, and just too dangerous for extended periods.  Eventually in January there was sufficient opportunity, and the european larch was transported to Muncaster Castle to be sawn into planks.  The weather continued to play havoc with Murray Wilson and Martin’s efforts at Muncaster, so that as I write the sawing operation is not yet complete, although it should be finished by the time you read this.

The delays have caused us to miss out on the availability of our joiner, so we are currently arranging for another craftsman to carry out the work.  He will not be able to start until the end of March.  It will take about four weeks to make the launder, and another couple of weeks to install it.  Electrical installation and commissioning may take a further two weeks, so we are looking at completion in early June, compared with my previous estimate of the end of 2015.  Full commissioning and approval by Ofgem before September is essential.

The two existing sluice gates have been fully restored, and a new one has been built to control flow to the waterwheel.  A trench has been cut from the wheel to the stable, where a mounting board for the control panel has been erected in the hay loft.  Another trench from the stable to the cottage will become the cable route for delivering the electricity. Internet cables are also to be laid, so that the performance of the system and security of the site can be remotely monitored by CCTV.

After commissioning, displays of information for visitors, construction of a protective barrier wall and fencing, and restoration of the paved viewing area will be required.  We will fit wire mesh screening over the launder, to prevent things from falling into the water, and make an assessment of tree branches, which might damage the installation by falling on it.  The building of steps over the launder will be needed to enable visitors to follow the route across the footbridge overlooking the waterwheel.

The system will be capable of delivering a maximum output of 3.68 kW.  If its efficiency is as the designer says, and water flow is at least 100 litres per second for 75% of the year, then we should realise about £5000 per annum via the Feed-in Tariff arrangement.

Len Watsonn Watson