Ten new lock gates, some weighing more than two tonnes, are being winched into place in an £85,000 scheme to maintain safety along the Kennet & Avon Canal near Marlborough The essential works are being carried out on a stretch at Froxfield which had to be drained to allow the removal of ageing gates at locks 68, 69 and 70. The replacements were made from steel and oak at the Canal & River Trust’s workshop in the West Midlands, and will serve the waterway for another 20 years.
The trust’s teams are also be completing brick repairs, stonemasonry work and checking the condition of chamber floors and walls on the 200-year-old canal.
The work is part of a comprehensive £50 million conservation and maintenance project which is being carried out across 2,000 miles of waterways in England and Wales this winter, involving the replacement of 104 lock gates.
The trust’s operations director Vince Moran said: “Repairing, maintaining and caring for the canal and river infrastructure underpins the cause of the trust.
“The programme is essential to enable the canal and river network to be used by boaters, canoeists, cyclists, anglers and walkers.
“We hope that by showcasing the repair works this winter, we can give people a chance to see the scale of the work we do to ensure that the waterways are preserved for today’s visitors and future generations.”
He said the manufacture and fitting of lock gates was an extremely skilled and traditional trade and one that remained essential to the waterways.
“Lock gates are constructed with tremendous strength as they have to control huge water pressures, take the hard usage they get from thousands of boats and survive for a long time underwater and at the mercy of the elements.
“In order to be waterproof they also need to be built very precisely, fitting tightly to the masonry of the lock walls and to each other.”