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With great vision and tenacity, the Cotswold Canals Trust is reconnecting the Rivers Thames and Severn. Jim White will tell us about a particularly ambitious project: the replacement of a section of the canal close to the River Severn that was infilled after it was abandoned in 1954. The work includes building a bridge under the mainline railway from Birmingham to Bristol and a new length of canal under the M5 and A38. Jim had an illustrious career in aerospace before his new career, as a retired mechanical engineer, with the Trust.
The scheme is divided into three distinct sections:
Varied solutions have been developed to overcome the challenges and obstacles, primarily restoration in sections 1 and 3, and completely new construction to re-establish a canal route through the “Missing Mile”.
The scheme is further broken down into more than 40 sub-projects comprising individual structures or features, and the lengths of canal between them.
The individual solutions allow historic structures to be restored using heritage techniques and materials, and modern and innovative techniques to be used for new structures – to become tomorrow's heritage. Many of the sub-projects will be undertaken by local and national waterway restoration volunteers from the Cotswold Canals Trust and Inland Waterways Association. Other sub-projects, such as highway crossings or rail bridges, including Ocean Bridge where the canal crosses under the Birmingham to Bristol railway, must be undertaken by the responsible authorities.
Just a few of the solutions will be described!
Jim White is Chair of Trustees and Director of Engineering, Cotswold Canals Trust, and has been involved in many aspects of the Cotswold canals for many years.
He served a mechanical apprenticeship with Plessey and, in his early career, was a design engineer for small aircraft actuator gearboxes. In 1964 he joined Smiths Industries, covering servomechanism design, being senior engineer for cockpit flight control for the Trident aircraft blind landing system, and developing the Concorde primary navigation and engine instrument suite. In 1969 Jim joined the Dowty Group where he ran the design group developing electro-mechanical equipment mainly for the Tornado military aircraft.
In 1988 he moved to head technical sales and international marketing, transferring his interest to railway signalling and the design and business management for electrical and electronic equipment including the ergonomic gunner’s and commander’s gun control equipment and displays for the UK Challenger 1 and 2 main battle tanks.
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