As part of major repairs to Barrowford Lock Number 47, the Canal and River Trust is inviting members of the public to explore what lurks beneath this historic waterway.
On Sunday, January 31st, visitors will be able to get an insight into the inner workings of the lock by venturing over 15 feet on to the lock floor, see the 3.5 tonne lock gates up close and speak to waterway specialists about how locks are repaired.
In November, the charity began a £45 million major overhaul across the 2,000 miles of waterways in its care, as part of a five-month maintenance programme for canals and rivers across England and Wales.
Essential maintenance will include the replacement and refurbishment of worn out lock gates and repairs to aqueducts, reservoirs, bridges and tunnels.
The Leeds and Liverpool Canal celebrates its 200th anniversary after being completed on October 22nd, 1816, to become Britain’s longest single man-made waterway.
In its heyday, the canal carried cotton, coal, wool, limestone, sugar and other vital cargo through rapidly expanding industrial areas in Lancashire and Yorkshire.
Chantelle Seaborn, waterway manager for the Canal and River Trust, said: “Replacing the gates is skilled work today, so it’s simply incredible how the original canal builders created the Leeds and Liverpool Canal.
“Their legacy lives on and repairing the lock gates at Barrowford is part of our essential maintenance to enable the local canal and river network to be enjoyed by thousands of people every day.
“Thousands of boats pass through these locks each year so they get huge use, but perhaps a lot of people won’t realise the skills and craftsmanship that is involved in caring for them. By showcasing this work we can give the public a glimpse of the scale of the work we do.”
The new lock gates have been made in the Trust’s specialist workshop at Stanley Ferry, Wakefield. Every individual lock gate is unique and has to be hand crafted by a skilled team of carpenters to achieve a water-tight fit in its chamber. Lock gates are made from sustainably-sourced British oak and have a working life of 25 or 30 years.
Richard Parry, chief executive of the Trust, said: “The Trust cares for a remarkable network of historic waterways which are still working just as they were designed to 200 years ago.
“Keeping them open and safe requires a huge amount of planning and investment and involves a wide range of experts, from civil engineers and hydrologists to heritage experts and ecologists.”
l To find out more about the restoration and repairs programme plus the open days happening across the country visit www.canalrivertrust.org.uk