Members Article

Shopham Riffles Diary

Tuesday 23rd July 2013 – First deliveries
Quite a few people on site to see in the first deliveries of gravel. It was very hot and dusty as the material was being delivered

Roger Poole our Press Officer who is also a ARRT trustee was on hand to put up the notices closing the water and also showed Ses Wright the Project Manager the riffles that had been constructed at Coultershaw some years ago.
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The first deliveries of gravel for the Shopham riffles

Wednesday 24th July 2013 – Club Secretary vists
It was quite quiet when I visited, I took a couple of pictures of the gravel deliveries and also had a walk upstream to the area where there will be a fish sanctuary and took a before picture. I then walked up to the Burton Mill Stream and took a couple of before pictures here as this is another area where gravel is going to be laid.
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The area where the fish sanctuary will be constructed

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Burton Mill stream – before

Thursday 25th July 2013
Heavy overnight rain did not deter further deliveries of gravel to the site this morning and Richard Hammond from ARRT was on hand to catch the action.
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The first load of gravel today

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The ever lengthening line of gravel

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A red wagon this time

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Let’s make sure we get the last bit out

Friday 26th July 2013
The last of the gravel was delivered yesterday so a quiet day today. We are expecting the first deliveries of boulders on Monday.

Monday 29th July 2013
Ses’ Wright the ARRT Project Manager take up the story ….Andy and I arrived at the site early to check the ground conditions for the scheduled 5×20 tonne rock deliveries today. We wanted to know how the overnight rain might have affected access for the trucks which when fully laden weigh 30 tonnes. We judged it be passable although slightly wet around one of the gateways and to see how it goes.

The first delivery arrived a little late, the SatNav having taken the haulage lorry to Bigenor Farm first! Having successfully delivered the first load the driver mentioned that he was a little concerned about the slightly wetter ground conditions through the third gateway (onto the riverside field), so we decided to use what was readily to hand in the form of a little of the gravel to improve truck access.

Andy secured a wheelbarrow and shovel, courtesy of Andrew Thompson and did an excellent job of improving the gate access just in time for the second delivery around 11am. Andy you are a star! The remaining 4 loads all went to plan and there are now 100 tonnes of rock piled on the site. The remaining 100 tonnes will hopefully be delivered safely tomorrow and I will be on site to check that the predicted rainfall doesn’t hopefully hamper this aim.

It was also really great to be supported by several trustees who came along to the site today, John, Roger and Charlie!

John (Whiting) stayed to help most of the day it was very kind of both John and his wife Peggy (who drove John over and also looked after my daughter whilst I worked) – all much appreciated.

Whilst all this is going on the local landowners are being very supportive of the project as well it truly is a team effort, which make my job as the Project Manager just that little bit easier.
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The first 20 tonnes of rock arrive

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By the end of the day 4 further loads and 100 tonnes of rock on site

Tuesday 30th July 2013
The rest of the rocks were delivered today without a hitch. We now get onto the really important bit – putting everything in place in the river.Thursday 1st August
John Whiting was on site and took a whole load of picture of the work in progress.Copyright Petworth and Bognor Angling ClubCopyright Petworth and Bognor Angling ClubCopyright Petworth and Bognor Angling ClubCopyright Petworth and Bognor Angling ClubCopyright Petworth and Bognor Angling ClubCopyright Petworth and Bognor Angling Club

Saturday 3rd August 2013
A report from Andy Thomas of The Wild Trout Trust
I have been up at Shopham over the last couple of days and can report that all is going well.There is still about 100 tonnes or so of gravel to go into the upstream glide section but I’m delighted to report that the “high” plateau and downstream riffle section is in and looks superb. I’m even more pleased to report that water levels at the bridge have only been raised by 75mm (less than one course of brickwork) as a result of the work, which is well within the tolerances we set ourselves.The meadow is a little scarred but nothing a scratch and some seed won’t put right next month.

I also managed to take before and after pictures which really show the positive effect on the river.

9th August 2013
The work has almost finished and Andy Thomas of the Wild Trout Trust (who were very instrumental in the design and fulfillment of the project) has submitted these before and after pictures of the riffles and also some pictures of the fish refuge that has been created upstream of the bridge.
Andy reported that …
The project is now largely finished bar the permanent fencing and a spot of grass seed.The project has run very smoothly and I think this is down to Ses Wright’s meticulous project management. She has done a great job in keeping everybody informed at all stages of the project and despite a little “hiccup” with a neighbour’s fence, she has managed to keep all parties informed and onboard.We have delivered what we said we would and the site contractors have been very helpful in ensuring that the backwater habitat is as large as it possibly could be, given the constraints of the site.

25th August 2013
It has been a bit quiet over the last week or so but this doesn’t mean that things are not happening. The next stage of the project is to fence the southbank side of the riffle area and we will also be looking to plant some trees here as well. Once we have the trees we will be asking for members assistance with planting these trees.In the same way that we have at Coultershaw we will create a small number of permanent swims within the fenced area. We are also looking to slightly step back the existing fence on the northbank to allow a bit more area for planting and access.We are meeting with the fencing contractor and landowners at the begining of September to brief them on what is requiredAlthough the fenced riffle areas will not be available to anglers until the start of the 2014 river season we hope to reopen the rest of Shopham in the first week of September.

Thursday 5th September 2013
Nigel Chapman, Roger Poole and Steve Simmonds met up with Ses’ Wright (ARRT Project Manager), Martin Elliott (Fencing Contractor) and Alan Gadd (Farmer) to discuss where the fencing will go and what the fencing will be used.First of all a couple of presentations were made; A bottle of champagne was presented to both Martin and Alan for their support to the project. We hope that they enjoy these. Then a bouquet of flowers was presented on behalf of the club to Ses’ in appreciation of all her hard work and her consideration of angling and in particular our club during the project.
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Club Chairman Nigel Chapman presents a bouquet of flowers to Ses Wright with Roger Poole looking on

We then got down to business and the first area we visited was the fish refuge opposite the first bend upstream of the bridge. This will be fenced to prevent cattle ingress into the refuge.
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The fish refuge

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In discussion – So where exactly are we going to put this fence?

We were amazed at the number of fry that had taken up residence in the refuge and we saw probably in excess of a thousand fry in this area, I managed to get a reasonable picture of some of them and if you count there are well over a hundred fish in this picture.
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The fish refuge already seems to be doing it’s job – just some of the fry we saw there

Let’s hope that the refuge works and a good proportion of these mature. This could prove to be a real shot in the arm to the fish stocks in the river.We then moved down to below the bridge on the south bank and decided where we would put the fencing and also where the designated swims on the riffles should go. We now await the final quotations before we go ahead but hopefully the fencing should appear fairly soon.The final task of the day was to take down the total water closure notices and replace them with the fishery re-open notices albeit not totally re-opened. If you get up there for a fish please let us know what you think of the work to date and more importantly let us know how you get on.

Friday 4th October 2013
I see that almost a month has gone by since the last entry, but this doesn’t mean that nothing has been going on, Today Nick Herbert MP for Arundel and South Downs visited to see the new Shopham riffles and the fish refuge. There were also representatives from ARRT and the EA along with a number of our Club members. The organisation required to get all these people together takes some doing and the administrators at ARRT deserve a massive pat on the back for making it happen.
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Nick Herbert being presented with ARRT’s first Annual Report with representatives from ARRT the EA and our club looking on.

The weather just about held off as the party first viewed the riffles. Ses Wright was on hand to explain how the construction took place and then Damian Block from the EA took over to explain how these structures in the river can benefit the river environment.
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Ses Wright explains how the riffle was constructed

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Damian Block from the EA talks about the environmental advantages of riffles on rivers

We then moved onto the fish refuge area on the Shopham up side. This was largely the brainchild of Andy Thomas from the Wild Trout Trust. Andy is also a club member and had earlier in the day tried a bit of spinning on the stretch – no takes however.
Andy explained how fish refuges of this type work, providing a haven from the current of the main river, particularly in times of high water flow and flood. Interestingly Andy has identified a number of other locations on the Rother where similar refuges could be installed. Perhaps the next project to look at in our efforts to improve the overall level of fish stocks in the river!
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Andy Thomas explains the benefits of the fish refuge

Another piece of good news as far as club anglers are concerned is the new steps that have been installed to gain access to the Shopham up section. These will make it much easier to get tackle over. The work was carried out by Committee man Richard Burbidge – many thanks Richard. As a quick aside Richard has also very recently completed a refurbishment of the stile at Fittleworth as well – thanks again Richard.
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Norman Thomas – our President just about to ascend the new steps with Richard Burbidge looking on

So the next thing is the fencing – I know I mentioned this some time ago but quotes had to be sought and compared, however a contractor has now been appointed and we will be marking out where we want the fences to run and swims positioned in the next few days.

Tuesday 15th October 2013
Another site survey to finally agree the fencing on the south bank took place today. We also decided upon the positions of the riffle swims on the south bank. Having looked long and hard at this area of the fishery we have decided that when we reopen this stretch for fishing the riffle area will only be fishable from the south (Coates) bank.

Wednesday 23rd October 2013
The riffle gained some international attention today when ARRT hosted a group from the River Restoration Centre together with visitors from the Czech Republic, they were on site to view the project to date. The River Restoration Centre was one of the bodies consulted for the re-construction of the Shopham Loop and the Shopham Loop Project forms one of the case studies in their manual of River Restoration.
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Committee member and ARRT trustee Roger Poole with visitors from the RRC and Czech Republic viewing the new riffle at Shopham

9th December 2013
Quite a time since the last update but today some trees arrived and club members were on hand to help out with the planting. The trees to be planted were Black Poplars which is a rare species in Sussex with only 38 mature trees being recorded. We have been given some one year old ‘whips’ which have been cultivated at Wakehurst Place and after they had been planted their position was mapped by GPS so that they can be monitored for the future. Taking part in the planting were Ses’ Wright and John Whiting (accompanied by his wife Peggy) from ARRT along with club members; Martin Cornish, Mick Greenway, Nelson Keet and Roger Poole, while Steve Simmonds was on hand to take the photographs.
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Ses and Nelson get the first tree into position while Roger looks on

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Martin and Roger get the second tree in place while Mick prepares to put the guard on

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Ses and Nelson with tree number five

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Martin planted this one

On this morning session we planted a total of nine trees four along the river bank and five in the wet hollow just a bit back from the river. John  then came along and GPS’d the trees and this together with their label information which includes details of where they came from and the sex of the tree and the trees unique number will all be passed back to the Sussex Black Poplar Working Group.For the afternoon planting most of the anglers had left and we were joined by 13 pupils from Duncton Junior School together with their Head Teacher – Helen Martin and year teacher – Paul Garnham.
For this afternoon session we concentrated our efforts in the area behind the newly constructed fish refuge just upstream of Shopham Bridge on the south bank.
After an initial briefing the children were split up into small groups and each group was armed with trees, stakes and protective meshes.
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The children are briefed and ready to go with adults from left to right; Paul Garnham, Roger Poole, Helen Martin, Ses’ Wright and Peggy Whiting.

The scheme followed was similar to the morning session with a hole being dug to take the tree and then a wooden stake being driven into the ground beside the hole. A small amount of compost was then put into the bottom of the hole and the tree put in and held upright whilst the hole was back-filled. Then came the tricky bit of forming a cylinder from the protective mesh and this was carefully lowered into place over the tree and the post. The protective mesh was tied to the post and the tree label tied back into place.  Finally John and Peggy went round all the trees and logged their reference and GPS position for future reference.
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Helen helps her group out with digging the hole

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Tree and post in place so back-filling can commence

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Ses’s group and Peggy’s group concentrating on the tricky task of forming the protective mesh

After the planting had been completed refreshments were very much the next priority and a mug of hot chocolate and a couple of biscuits were enjoyed by all.
There was just time for a brief visit downstream ( Ses’ explained to the children how the riffle had been built) before loading everyone back into the minibus for the trip back to school.

31st March 2014
It’s been a long time since we have been able to do any further work here but at last the floods have subsided and the fencing contractors have finally got on to site to put in the new fence on the south bank. We decided to allow for two swims on the riffle area and have had stiles erected at the two access points. we will be further defining the swims in the next few weeks.
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The fencing posts are laid out ready to be put in place

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The completed fence looking downstream from the gate

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Entrance stile for the downstream riffle swim

Monday 14th April 2014
We lost some of the trees planted in December to the floods, but it was always our intention to plant some willows along here as well. Willow whips were cut at the work party at Hurston Lane yesterday and Mick Greenway kindly brought them down and planted them today.

Cut willow whips at Hurston Lane ready for transport to Shopham

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Willow whips planted inside the fence at Shopham

9th May 2014
Strong post and wire fencing has now been erected around the refuge, with a cattle drink area and sliding posts along one section to enable access for machinery if required for future maintenance works. Some remaining wooden post and rails are needed at the cattle drink area and this will be done as soon as ground conditions improve and the river water levels drop slightly. The farmer, Alan, has recently sprayed the area to help control the rapid growth of docks and hopes to allow the cattle back once the land has dried out more – it is still very muddy underfoot. There is little evidence of any excessive siltation in the refuge at present despite considerable sandy deposits on the river bank opposite the refuge and significant land deposition of river-sand on the right bank (looking downstream) and field alongside the main riffle John (Whiting) and Ses Wright planted over a dozen small willow whips around the waters edge of the refuge and hopefully these will take. We still need some added habitat protection for smaller fish and fry that will hopefully come along and colonise the refuge later in the year. Many thanks should go to Mick Greenway, Ses Wright and John Whiting who braved pretty poor weather conditions to carry out the recent plantings.
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New fencing around the refuge as viewed from the hedge

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Cattle drink at the head of the fish refuge, fencing to be completed

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Fenced culvert and access to the cattle drink

8th October 2014
We had the services of a team of volunteers from the South Downs National Park (SDNP) and the Wild Trout Trust (WTT) doing some further work at Shopham today. The SDNP team were lead by ranger – Alison Pitts whilst Andy Thomas lead on behalf of the WTT.
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SDNP ranger Alison Pitts

The first task for the day was to provide some shelter around the fish refuge, this took the form of six fans of woody brush material which was secured with wire and chestnut posts. As well as providing juvenile fish with areas to shelter from larger predator fish and predatory birds the area also provides an ideal habitat for small invertebrates a critical step in the river food chain.
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The completed Shopham refuge

The second task was to place and secure two brushwood faggots into the river on the north bank in the area of the riffles. These should further improve the habitat as well as reducing bank erosion in this area which can become an issue at times of high water / flow.Many thanks to all the volunteers who have worked so hard at Shopham to give the river a much needed boost. We also have to thank all the photographers who have provided an excellent pictorial record which has really helped to bring this diary alive.

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Before the bulk of the rocks etc. were placed
3rd August and what a transformation
Before and after pictures of the riffles looking upstream from the south bank
Before and after pictures of the riffles looking downstream from the south bank
These two pictures show the construction of the refuge above the bridge
Two views of the completed refuge
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Laying the brushwood
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The SDNP team hard at work
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The brushwood faggots arrive
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Andy’s team putting the faggots in place on the Shopham riffles