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Slope scuppers sensible scheme

by Rod Kebble

While half a dozen volunteers went off to continue the war against rhododendrons in Tankersford Wood, the first task of the new year for a couple of others — abetted by herdsman Tony Timmis — was to tackle the erection of the two gateposts at the entrance to the pond field below the dairy.

The plan had been to hang the gates in such a way that the longer gate folded outwards 180 degrees and tucked neatly back against the hedge planted last January. The shorter gate would fold back by the same amount, though a change in the direction of the hedge would mean the gate would stick out a bit but not so much as to obstruct the roadway to the dairy.

The gateposts erected. The gates have not yet been hung as the cement needs to go off first.

The gateposts with the gates very roughly in position. This picture shows the slope of the land that prevents the gates from being hung as desired.

Alas, the gradient of the slope is such that the longer gate would ground on the concrete roadway before it could reach the hedge. Mounting it higher on a taller post might fix that problem but would leave the free end of the gate a couple of feet or more off the ground and not at all level with the shorter gate. So now the short gate will fold against the hedge and the long gate will just have to stick out into the roadway and be removed entirely when the gate needs to be open for long periods, eg on Open Days.

One bit of good news: the holes for the gateposts were easily dug, the stones so often encountered when digging at Pierrepont being almost completely absent. A dry mix of concrete was poured into the bottom of the holes and the rest backfilled with spoil. Once the cement has dried, the posts can be drilled to accept the hinges and the gates can be hung — but these tasks will have to wait until next time.

Countryside Restoration Trust volunteer Brian Sams starts to mix the sand and cement.

CRT volunteer Brian Sams starts to mix the sand and ballast — there’s a bag of cement somewhere in the background. No messing about with wheelbarrows was required, as farmer Mike Clear kindly delivered the materials directly to the site.

Update, 11th January 2013: It has been suggested that we use rising hinges. Unfortunately, it seems they rise about 75mm (3 inches) for every metre of gate width and this would not be enough to solve the problem. However, Brian Sams has a Cunning Plan to chamfer the gate post to allow the gate top be swung farther back… Actually, “chamfer” is too delicate a word to use here — he aims to saw as much off the gatepost corner as he can. Watch for future developments.