Members of the public are invited to see behind-the-scenes at Long Eaton Lock as one of a series of open day events on the nation’s historic waterways.
On Sunday, October 2 the Canal & River Trust, the charity that cares for 2,000 miles of historic waterways across England & Wales, is inviting members of the public to venture into the drained lock as part of £100,000 works to replace the bottom lock gates.
Long Eaton Lock on the Erewash Canal was built between 1777 and 1779 at a cost of around £20,000 and was a commercial success right from when it opened, moving vast quantities of coal, quarried stone, bricks and metal goods.
Visitors will have the rare opportunity to walk along the lock’s original 235-year-old brickwork floor and learn more about the history of the canal. The lock chamber is 27 metres long, five metres wide and 2.9 metres deep and can hold over 390,000 litres - the equivalent of over 4,500 bathtubs of water.
The works will cost £100,000 and involve highly skilled craftsmanship. The bottom set of oak lock gates, which weigh 2.6 tonnes each, will be replaced and the historic brickwork will be sensitively restored using traditional lime mortar. Whilst on site the Trust’s team will also take the opportunity to replace the ladders which enable boaters to climb onto the lockside and repair the coping stones along the edge of the lock walls.
The works, which started on September 19, are expected to be completed by October 9 and the lock is due to be reopened to boats the following day.
Sean McGinley, waterway manager for the Canal & River Trust, said: “Repairing the lock gates at Long Eaton Lock is part of the essential maintenance needed to enable the local canal network to be used and enjoyed by boaters, cyclists, anglers and walkers. It’s a busy lock, right at the start of the canal and these works are important ahead of the Inland Waterways Association’s Festival of Water coming to the Erewash Canal next summer.
“We are opening up the site on October 2, providing a unique chance for visitors to venture to the bottom of the drained lock chamber. Visitors will get a guided tour by one of our expert team who will explain about the repair and restoration works we are doing here.”
As part of its year-round maintenance programme, the Trust typically replaces around 160 lock gates across the country as well as carrying out repairs to aqueducts, reservoirs and tunnels. Many of the biggest projects are carried out during the winter months to minimise the impact on waterway users.
Richard Parry, chief executive of the Canal & River Trust, said: “We care 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, investment and craftsmanship and involves a wide range of experts, from civil engineers and hydrologists to heritage experts and ecologists.”
The open day takes place between 10am and 4pm on Sunday 2 October at Long Eaton Lock, a short walk from Derby Road in Long Eaton. There are several car parks near the site. Last entry into the lock will be at 3:30pm. Sturdy footwear is recommended for walking in the drained lock chamber, if footwear is deemed inappropriate entry will not be allowed.
To find out more about the Restoration & Repairs programme and the open days happening across the country go to: www.canalrivertrust.org.uk/restoration-and-repair-open-days.