March 9, 2019 update – the trunk route has reached Rathmell old school

We’ve had some good progress this week in spite of the weather and we have now got duct for Route1 as far as Hesley Lane at the old school field, and spurs down to the school / School House as per the sections shown in purple.

Our next section to work on is the section shown in blue which would give us a completed trunk route bar the road cut / crossing at the school field.

House Kit installation training

Training was held in Rathmell on Monday 4th March to give attendees the relevant knowledge of how to install the internal and external house boxes and handle the ducting / fibre.

March 2, 2019 update – good digging progress on the trunk route between Hollin Hall and Green Farm

We have made some good progress over the last few weeks as you will be able to see from the map below. Green shows the part of the dig that B4RN have blown fibre into being served off the Eldroth node, Orange is where we had duct dug to on the last update, and Pink is the duct we have dug in since the last update.

So we have gone under the railway and the A65 and got duct to the properties at Close House and down to the Craven Arms.  The main route has advanced from Hollin Hall up to the lane to Huggon House / Green Farm and spurs have been laid to garden walls of the properties around Huggon House.  We saw a slightly unconventional yet effective approach from Martin Charnley who took his garden fence down and invited the contractor to mole his and his neighbour’s house connections in through his garden! We have also impact-moled under Mill Lane by Tilthammer / Old Sawmill ready to get property ducts to the Old Sawmill area. We were hoping to have reached Hesley Lane at the Old School Field at the end of last week, however a broken starter motor on the mole plough compounded by another problem caused when removing the broken starter prevented us from ploughing this week.  So hoping for better progress during next week.

Timescales

I’m still not going to give any definitive dates as there are still too many variables to be certain but I will outline what remains to be done (in no particular order, some things will be able to happen in parallel).

  • 1-2 weeks worth of digging on the main trunk duct – this is our prime focus at the moment
  • Open road cut across Hesley Lane at the ‘School Field’ gateway – to be done by B4RN no fixed date as yet but expected to be early April
  • Open road cut across Hesley Lane at Gawthorpe Hosuse – to be done by B4RN no fixed date, but will be done at the same time as the school field crossing
  • B4RN distribution node to install / commission – to be done by B4RN no fixed date as yet
  • Open road cut across Main Street Rathmell from the Reading Room to the lane by the church – to be done by B4RN no fixed date as yet 
  • Filling out property spurs to the rest of central Rathmell (aka the ‘head ends’ in B4RN terminology)Filling out property spurs off the rest of the trunk route e.g. Swainstead / Swaw Beck / Rome / Parsons Close
  • Another variable which may affect timescales is changes made in November to the rules of the Gigabit Fibre Broadband Voucher Scheme which now allow B4RN to make a block application covering both businesses and residential properties.  B4RN have made an application for our area and are awaiting confirmation from the Department of Media, Culture and Sport as to whether this has been approved.  B4RN will be waiting for this to be resolved before they make any further properties live as they cannot claim on a property retrospectively.  I’ll give more details on this as soon as I have them.

Getting yourself ready for a house install

The above diagram gives an overview of how a B4RN connection gets from the duct in the field to the router mounting plate in your house, and who is responsible for which parts of that connection.

The project will get a 7mm orange duct to your garden boundary, please let us know if there is a specific place you would like us to get to.

It is the householder’s responsibility to get the duct dug in through their garden (we can’t mole plough every garden). I would encourage neighbours to work together to have multiple property ducts dug in together as much as possible.

The project will supply the householder with 7mm ducting (black for above ground and orange for below ground) and any connectors required.  If you choose to add additional protection to the buried duct e.g. alkathene water pipe, then you would need to supply that. It may be possible to source some free offcuts of 16mm duct from B4RN to use as additional protection.

It is the project’s responsibility to get the 5mm white property duct through the house wall and fit the internal / external boxes. As things stand this is normally done on a volunteer basis and any costs involved have to be met by the local group as they are not covered by the B4RN connection fee or the project investment.  However if the voucher scheme goes ahead, and a property has signed up with the scheme, I am led to believe that this may well become less of a volunteer basis and may become more of a contractor job with the costs claimable against the voucher scheme.  Again I will update you when we have more definitive details of how this will all work.

Note: I understand that all Harrison Cross’s electricians have all been trained in the fitting of B4RN House Kits so they are also a potential route to get a House Kit installation done at the householder’s expense.  However, the project will still need to be involved in order to get the House Kit from B4RN, so please ask first.

Once all the above is in place and the cluster of properties served off the same access chamber have reached the same point B4RN engineers will come to blow the actual fibre from the chamber to your property and make the connection live and give you a router to mount on the internal box if your are taking up the connection.

January 5, 2019 update – trunk route nearly 3/4 complete

We have now completed installing duct for 5295 metres out of the 7418 metres of the main incoming trunk route which makes our main route 71% complete.  The map below shows sections where we have duct with live fibre blown in in green, sections which have had duct installed in orange and the sections still to be dug in blue.

We have a road crossing to do near the pumping station on Paley Green Lane and once that is in place we will have a continuous incoming route from Armitstead all the way to Hollin Hall.  This should be able to be completed via an impact mole which our current B4RN contractor is able to do himself. 

Work will be restarting this week to get the remaining sections of the trunk route dug in, our contractor is taking on an extra pair of hands to help with the work.  The digging work should only be about another 2 to 3 weeks.  We have two further road crossings to get in place on the trunk route – one to cross the Huggon House – Green Farm track which should be an impact mole, and the other a road crossing on Hesley Lane above the Old School which is likely to need to be a road cut which we are awaiting a date on for it to be done.

We are also arranging with B4RN for the control node plinth to be installed in the Reading Room car park following which the control node can be put in place.  Once the control node in place and has an incoming fibre connection back into the B4RN network every property that we have reached can be made live and every further property we then reach can also be made live.

Once the work to dig in the trunk route is in place we will look to complete the Phase 1 work by moving on to fill out the various spurs off the main route, the order in which these get done will depend on both availability of access to land and where there are investors’ properties.  These spurs include (in no particular order) Tipperthwaite, Rome / Parson’s Green, Close House / Craven Arms, Swaw Beck, Swainstead (n.b. this incorporates the start of the route to Wham) , Green Farm, Old Sawmill, North side of Hesley Lane below the school, Cross Keys / College Fold, Central Rathmell east of Main Street, Gooselands / Field Gate / Cappleside (n.b. this incorporates the start of routes to Wigglesworth / Tosside).

I’m awaiting an up to date figure on overall investment from B4RN and I’ll let you all know as soon as I have that.

Once the Phase 1 dig work is completed we will be looking to move on to other routes or parts of routes either on from Swainstead towards Wham, or from Cappleside towards Tosside or Wigglesworth.  This will ultimately be driven by suitable levels of investment being in place to be able to move those routes forward.  It would be really useful if I could have a volunteer or two from each of those routes to help liaise with other people on those routes.  If people on other routes want to go through a similar exercise as to when we were looking to raise the initial £50k threshold then I am willing to hold on to your cheque, B4RN shares application form and a note from you under which conditions that cheque and form can be submitted to B4RN.

December 1, 2018 update – welcome to Steve Foster, our new contractor

We are back underway with digging! Despite the occasional biblical downpour we have managed to get through a couple of tricky areas around the back of Holly Dene and New Hall during last week. Next week we are looking to plough ahead across the bottoms from New Hall to get joined up to the existing ducting at Paley Green Lane.

Many thanks to Steve Foster our new B4RN contractor and all those who have helped out during this week – Paul Baxter, Bryan Gorst, Anna & Steve Howarth, John Rushden, Chris & Richard Frankland.

A picture of Steve’s fully metal tracked plough attached for the machinery lovers out there:

2nd October update – digging well underway, and we’re looking for contractors

Over the summer and since the last update, Roger has made sure that good progress was made… digging started and several kilometres of cable are now in the ground between the LEWFA project and Rathmell. As I write, we’re expecting an imminent visit from B4RN’s technicians to have a look at details such as power supply up at Rathmell Reading Room, where our central cabinet will be located.

wanted: mole plough contractors

But we’re also slightly victims of our (or B4RN’s) success, because our mole plough contractors have been too busy to dig for RW(G)BB in recent weeks.

We’re putting out a call for other people who would be willing and able to mole plough to get in touch with us. B4RN experience / accreditation is an advantage because there’s immediate work for anyone who can jump straight in and knows the specifics of the project. We think training can be arranged for contractors who mole plough but not yet for B4RN, so please get in touch if you’re interested in the work!

We’re now on …[eyeroll]… Facebook

Well, it probably had to happen eventually. RW(G)BB is now on Facebook – like us, share us, use that “angry face” reaction, messenger us, scatter your metadata to the universe: https://www.facebook.com/rwgbb/

Seriously (or rather, equally seriously), we hope being on FB will make some of the increasingly important community aspects of our project easier for local residents to follow and manage.

(“Easier than popping round and asking the neighbour?” you ask. Good question. Good question.)

RWBB first dig training meeting – 16th May 2018

On Wednesday 16th May, we held our first meeting since reaching the initial funding target and being given the go-ahead by B4RN. The purpose of the meeting was for B4RN’s experts to give basic training to our own dig team. A mole plough is on its way to us, and the digging of our own network could even start before the end of May!

questions, decisions

instructions

planning and building the network for easy maintenance

how to keep everything clean and free of kinks so fibre-blowing is fast and painless, and the importance of accurate labelling of each duct’s destination.

cutting and capping duct to keep it clean

Public Meeting – Tuesday 6th March, 2018 7.30pm at The Plough

Meeting report:

We had another room full of people at the Plough, and a wide range of questions asked of Roger Vincent and David Ryall, B4RN’s Community Liaison & Planning Coordinator. Any further questions you may have can be passed on to David and the B4RN staff, so by all means send them in to us.

The things we need people in the area to do now or as soon as possible are Register, Invest & Volunteer.

Register

If you (or your neighbours) haven’t yet indicated your interest in getting better broadband for your home or business in Rathmell / Wigglesworth, you can still register via this website. Registering helps make sure you’re on our lists and – more importantly – the local network route maps.
We should soon have a couple of banners up in Rathmell and Wigglesworth to try and make sure that everyone is aware of the project.

Invest

Investment in our project is open and as of Monday 5th March we already have a total of £15,500 invested in shares.  We will periodically get an updated number from B4RN and we will update the total on our website which you can see here http://rwbb.org.uk/b4rn-investment-progress/.

We need to keep pushing towards our initial target of £50,000 in order to be able to start digging so I would encourage everyone that is able to, and particularly those who are included in Phase 1, to make their investment in B4RN as soon as they can.

If you want to invest through shares the ‘Application for Shares’ form which you need to fill in can be downloaded from here https://b4rn.org.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/09/Share-application-form-B4RN-V5.1-21.9.17.pdf. If you don’t have the facility to print off a copy, and don’t have a handy neighbour who could print you one, please let us know and we will get a copy to you.

You can also invest via making a loan to B4RN which can be more beneficial compared to shares for non tax payers. The availability and terms of the loans can vary over time but typical terms are a 5 year loan paying 4% compound annual interest with the capital and interest being repaid at the end of the term.  Let Roger Vincent know if you want to know more about loans and I will give you details of how to proceed.

We will need to raise a total of at least around £85,000 for Phase 1 to be completed as this would be the minimum amount needed if all digging is done as ‘work for shares’ by landowners/farmers.  We are hopeful based on indications from the Phase 1 farmers / landowners that practically the whole route can be done as work for shares, but there is no obligation on farmers / landowners to do this. n.b. a farmer / landowner can do ‘work for shares’ on someone else land (obviously with the permission of the owner/tenant of the land).  Another important point from Dave Ryall was that the shares gained through ‘work for shares’ are eligible to claim the 30% EIS tax rebate on, and furthermore will also qualify the shareholder a waiver of the £150 connection fee if they earn 1500 shares.

For both Shares and Loans investments please make sure you fill in the Allocation Preference on the forms for the ‘Rathmell and Wigglesworth’ project to ringfence the investment to our project.

As discussed at the meeting we are aiming to commence our dig around the end of April / early May, the exact start date will depend on when we can raise the £50,000 to start digging, and just as important the state of the weather / fields.  It is possible for the dig to progress quickly and for the work to be done in weeks, but a more realistic timescale is probably in months.  We would be aiming to get Phase 1 done and be working on one or more of the next routes to be done by the end of this year.

Volunteer

Not everyone needs to do this but every bit of help we can get will help keep the project moving along.

Ways in which you can help include:

  • Helping with main route digs – wrangling ducting ready for mole ploughing, helping prepare holes under field walls, helping install access chambers, backfilling
  • Helping with garden digs – helping get 7mm duct from the garden wall to the house wall where the resident is not able to do so by themselves
  • House installs – this involves drilling through the house wall and putting the last length of duct through the wall and fitting the interior and exterior wall fittings, training may be required (n.b. the termination of the actual fibres will be carried out by B4RN engineers)
  • Local coordinator – liaising with a cluster of neighbours, seeing who needs help with a garden dig and arranging a common date when B4RN can come to get fibre blown to all the cluster and prepare the connections in the properties in one go.
  • Food & Drink – a digger will feel much better after a snack and a cup of something warm

progress update 1st January 2018

To paraphrase Roger’s informative email of the 28th December…

Routes

Signed wayleave agreements are now in place for nearly all of the initial Route 1 from Armitstead Hall, Lawkland down to the centre of Rathmell (as well as many of the local property spurs on that route and around central Rathmell).

A slight change has been made to this initial route which will shorten its path, but that has involved a few ‘new’ landowners, and a few more wayleaves to get in the next 2 to 3 weeks.

Progress on other routes will be able to be made once this initial connection to LEWFA’s network is finalised.

Costing / investment

B4RN are trying to get a costing to us by the middle of January.

They will also tell us how much initial investment we would need to have in place in order to begin digging. The initial amount needs to be enough to purchase our cabinet and the ducting / cabling for Route 1, and to cover the cost of digging (although not all digging costs need to come out of the budget, because some of our landowners are willing to dig in return for B4RN shares).

As soon as we have our last Route 1 wayleave signed up and our investment target in place, we will make the call for investment to begin.

Call for volunteers

Once wayleaves and investment are in place, the digging can begin and the rest of us in the community can play more of a part. Please let Roger know if you are willing to help with any (or all) of the following phases of work:

  1. Digging
    We will be talking with landowners/farmers over the winter to get a rough plan for digging. We aim to start digging in April / May (which should coincide with the fields being available for the work too). We’ll need people to help with the digging itself, and with the supplying of tea / sandwiches / cake to the diggers. 
  2. Garden digging
    Once the line reaches each property, the property owner is responsible for getting the line from the boundary (e.g. the garden wall) to the house. Not everyone can do this digging by themselves, of course, so if you are willing to help those who can’t, please let Roger know.
  3. Getting the line into each house
    Once the line has reached the property itself, the project team takes responsibility for drilling through property walls and getting the line into each house, as well as for mounting the external and internal termination boxes. We also need volunteers for this phase; appropriate training will be provided.
  4. Local co-ordinators
    When we reach the stage where individual properties can be connected, it will be done in clusters, with all properties served by the same local access point (i.e. the nearest manhole on the route) done on the same day, which requires some coordination between neighbours. Around each manhole / access point, we will be looking for a local coordinator to go between the project team and neighbours to set a date for the cluster’s connections to be made (and make sure everyone is in!).

Please let Roger know if you are willing to volunteer.

 

Public Meeting – 2nd August 2017, 7.30pm at The Plough

A public meeting was held at The Plough in Wigglesworth on Wednesday 2nd August at 7:30pm… B4RN’s Community Liaison & Planning Coordinator, David Ryall, defined the spectrum of public meetings he had attended as ranging from “7 people, and a dog, who fell asleep” at the low end, up to “standing room only, and it was a big room” at the top end.

We’re pleased to say that our own public meeting was up towards the top end of the spectrum, with about 20 people left standing at the back after all the seats had been filled, some people overspilling into the bar area and calling for speakers to shout for the benefit of those at the back, and a few people even standing outside looking in through the open windows, until the rain became torrential.

Mr Ryall gave a down-to-earth (excuse the pun) and informative presentation about Broadband for the Rural North, and how we might expect our own B4RN dig to go. He answered questions ably and entertainingly, and there was more excitement after the meeting than one might reasonably have expected for anything involving putting miles and miles of orange duct under the ground and digging up your own garden, and paying money for the privilege. Perhaps it was the anticipation of both 1Gbps download and upload speed AND cups of tea and pieces of cake that did it? Or maybe it really was the sense of promise at a community alternative to a faceless corporation, a potentially good return on investment, and raised house prices, as various people mentioned.

The meeting was an excellent opportunity to find out more about B4RN from Mr Ryall, and from members of the neighbouring LEWFA and Clapham B4RN projects who attended and gave their own answers to residents’ questions.

Thank you to all who organised, spoke, asked, answered or just attended, and to the Plough for hosting the meeting.