The Canal & River Trust is giving members of the public the unique opportunity to go behind the scenes into the temporarily drained Lock 7 on the Old Main Line Canal in Wolverhampton at the end of February to see close up the refurbishment of the 250-year-old canal lock, which includes the replacement of the 1.7 tonne hand-crafted oak lock gates.
The Trust is replacing the worn-out lock gates, repairing historic brickwork as well as carrying out other conservation works, as part of a major programme of winter repairs along its 2,000 miles of historic canals across England and Wales.
The nation’s largest canal charity has had to raise more than £250,000 to carry out the works at Grade II-Listed Lock 7 and several other locks along the Old Main Line Canal in Wolverhampton. The repairs, which require the water to be temporarily drained, are taking place over the winter months when fewer boats are using the canal network.
The Trust’s specialist carpenters at Bradley in the West Midlands have handcrafted the lock gates, part of the Trust’s work to protect the historic lock and help ensure that the Old Main Line Canal is kept open and safe for boats and people on the towpath to enjoy.
Lock gates are typically changed every 25 years and so, on Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 February, the Trust is offering the public the rare opportunity to walk the drained lock chamber. Visitors to the free event, which has been kindly supported by local company Thomas Dudley Ltd with a £5,000 donation, will get the chance to chat with the skilled team carrying out the works and find out what goes in to protecting the historic canal network. There will also be the opportunity to take part in a range of canal-themed family-friendly activities.
The repairs to the locks in Wolverhampton are part of 138 large-scale projects being carried out across the country by the Trust this winter to replace worn-out lock gates, inspect tunnels and aqueducts, repair centuries-old masonry and brickwork, together with a host of other important heritage and conservation tasks. It’s a massive task to keep canals in working order for boats, for local communities, and for the benefit of wildlife, involving the Trust’s passionate team of specialists and thousands of dedicated volunteers, donors and partners.
Adnan Saif, director of West Midlands at Canal & River Trust, said: “The Old Main Line Canal dates to the first days of the Industrial Revolution, and is still used and navigated by boats as it has been for hundreds of years.
“We can’t wait to welcome the public to come and see behind the scenes at our lock open weekend. It’s a great spectacle and a fantastic opportunity for people to find out more about the canals on their doorstep, and the skill and knowledge of the people caring for them. The nation’s canal network is standing up to the test of time and is a piece of living history that everyone can enjoy – come along and discover how we keep canals alive today.”
The Wolverhampton Locks open weekend takes place on Saturday 24 and Sunday 25 February from 10am – 4pm. The event and all activities are free and open to all, but donations are welcome on the day to support the Trust’s work. To book your free tour visit https://canalrivertrust.org.uk/support-us/our-campaigns/join-us-behind-the-scenes
To find out more about the Trust, including how you can support its vital work, go to: Canal & River Trust.