What lies beneath at West Stockwith?

This month, the Canal & River Trust begins a major overhaul of its waterways as part of a five-month maintenance programme to canals and rivers across England and Wales.
West Stockwith lock during restoration.West Stockwith lock during restoration.
West Stockwith lock during restoration.

Members of the public are invited to visit and see behind-the-scenes at West Stockwith Lock on the River Trent, as part of 16 public open day events being held across England and Wales showcasing the work of the Trust.

The Trust is investing around £100,000 in vital repairs to the lock which will include replacing a set of lock gates which were last changed over 30 years ago. The lock itself is 42 metres long and 6.5 metres deep and the new lock gates weigh 3.5 tonnes.

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On Sunday November 23 this incredible feat of engineering will be open for the public to walk along the lock bottom as well as asking questions to the Trust’s craftsmen about how this skilled work is carried out.

Julian Rasen, construction supervisor for the Canal & River Trust’s East Midlands region said: “This is a unique event which gives local people the chance to get a behind-the-scenes look at some amazing history. To walk along the bed of the lock and see all the blood, sweat and tears that must have gone into building these locks over 200 years ago is a real privilege. Lock gate making and fitting is an extremely skilled and traditional trade and one that remains essential to the waterways.”

Teams of experts across the country will be working on around 100 locks across the country, replacing 141 lock gates for the benefit of the 33,000 boats and 10 million towpath visitors that visit them each year.

Richard Parry, chief executive of the Canal & River Trust, said: “The Canal & River 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, investment and craftsmanship and involves a wide range of experts, from civil engineers and hydrologists to heritage experts and ecologists.

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“This winter we are spending £45 million on essential repairs and restorations and routine maintenance to our canals and rivers. By showcasing this work to the public we can give them a glimpse of the craftsmanship of the waterways’ original 18th Century design and the scale of the work we do to care for it. We hope this will inspire more people to get involved to enjoy and help support their local canal or river navigation.”

The Canal & River Trust carries out a year round programme of works to maintain and repair the 2,000 miles of canals and rivers in its care so they can be enjoyed by the 33,000 boats and 10 million towpath visitors each year. Many of the biggest projects are carried out during the winter months to minimise the impact on waterway users. This year, essential maintenance will include the replacement of worn-out lock gates and repairs to aqueducts, reservoirs and tunnels.

The open day event is being held at West Stockwith Lock, Stockwith Basin, Canal Lane, West Stockwith, north of Gainsborough, DN10 4ET between 9:30-3:30pm. Visitors are asked to wear sturdy footwear.

To find out more about the Restoration & Repairs programme and the open days happening across the country go to www.canalrivertrust.org.uk/winter-open-days-201415