Site address
(not postal)

Woodcroft Wildspace
Downes Court


N21 3PT


In the construction industry a Topping Out ceremony is generally held when the highest brick, tile or other part of the structure is put in place. The building is then finished off in subsequent stages. At Woodcroft our well is made of 5 large concrete rings, each 1.05m in diameter and weighing a fairly substantial 330Kg each, so our top brick is a hefty item and cause for celebration at achieving the placement, particularly as the hole dug to take the other 4 rings is some 2m deep in the London clays.

The rings were delivered to the car park and unloaded the easy way, with a hydraulic crane. Our crane was designed and built by Woodcroft volunteers mostly from materials we already had on site. It is designed to easily fit in our plant trailer and roll in and out on Oak rails.

To see photos of the early stages of the well build, click here Below are photos and details of the Topping Out Ceremony. Click on image for larger photo


The last ring leaves the car park. To pick a load up the crane is placed over the rings, supported firmly by pallets and jacks. The ring is then winched up clear of the rails, which are then re-inserted to enable the whole load to be rolled onto the trailer. To unload the reverse process is followed, jacking the whole crane so that the rails can be safely removed and the ring lowered into place.

Areden & Harrison inspecting.Two of our volunteers checking out how far down in the ground the previous 4 rings had been sunk.

Emptying Gravity. To help force the rings into the ground we use the free power available from gravity by covering the well with pallets both for safety and weight. We then put two 220 litre barrels on top and fill them with rainwater using a 12V bilge pump. This gives us about 500Kg to help force the rings into the ground over the previous few days. We let it take it's time while we're not there. Before we can do more work, the barrels have to be emptied, filling the other barrels we use for the jet washer, as shown here.



Emptying Gravity. Once those barrels are full we pump the rest into our settling tank – of which more later.

Ring 5 Lined Up: The trailer with the 5th ring is lined up with the well.
It's The Well! Pumping Out. The rain during the week filled the well up a bit so here Harrison and Bob are pumping it out before the Topping Out starts.
Lining Up. Fine tuning the trailer and well alignment. It has to be accurate to within a few centimetres otherwise it just doesn't work and we have to start all over again.
Setting Up the Rails. This shows the rails being set up ready to roll the crane with its load of the ring, into place. The rails must be parallel, level and line up exactly over the well, hence the concentration!
Chocked and Ready. Everything all lined up and ready to move.
Ring 5 ready to roll. All pose! The Well Team all ready to roll out the 5th ring.
Rolling Out. The 5th ring is moved off the trailer and over the well.
Final Alignment. The final alignment of the two rings.
Going Down. Lowering away. Note the timbers used to guide it – not hands!
Lowering Away. Steady and careful lowering into place.
Ring 5 Topped Out. Ring 5 in place. The well is Topped Out!
And It's Down! The well with all 5 rings in place.
And finally – Team Woodcroft taking a WELL earned “cuppa”. Even our youngest volunteers played an active, closely supervised, part in putting the 5th ring in place and Topping Out the Woodcroft Well.

Success ! The well has reached its full 2.5m depth today, 27th May, with the aid of loads of water to fill it completely and then piling all the brinks we had on top of the pallets. It sank quietly and gracefully on to the foundation stones laid last Friday, settling to exactly ground level just as we planned it.

So all we have to do now is - finish it off by digging out the outer channel, cover the rings with mesh and then fill the channel with all the broken bricks. And – most importantly – finish off the foundations to stop it sinking into the ground any further. That involves more of the bricks and building rubble we got the other week, mix it all up with sand and cement to concrete the bottom in – not forgetting the relief valve ! We'll get on this the foundations on Saturday. Anyone got a cement mixer to hand ?? Oh – and guess we had better make a lid too ..........

Ready for the lid.......
....and we now have the lid on the well. Properly topped out. Just a bit more tidying up and fence to put back and that's it – job done!