Foxton Locks open weekend hit by weather

A PLANNED public open day at Foxton Locks in Leicestershire this weekend (February 15-16) has been cancelled.

The decision was made by Canal & River Trust following forecasts of high winds and heavy rain.

“We’re really disappointed as we were looking forward to it but the safety of our visitors has to be the main priority,” said a CRT spokesperson.

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“The good news is that we still have three more weekends planned, starting on Saturday, February 22, where people can see behind the scenes of our lock gate replacement works and walk down into a drained lock.”

Visitors can step down into a drained lock to learn about the important maintenance work. Activities for the whole family include photography, fishing, traditional canal painting and Lego big builds – with different activities each weekend

These are taking place each Saturday and Sunday from February 22 through to March 8. All activities are free however some have limited spaces so booking is advised. Visitors are advised to wear warm clothing and sturdy footwear. Parking is limited so please car share where possible.

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Over the next two months the Canal & River Trust is completing important works at Foxton, the longest and steepest ‘staircase’ of locks in the UK, including replacing a number of giant oak lock gates.

Aerial view of foxton locks
An aerial view of Foxton Locks. PHOTO: CRT

The programme of works will see new lock gates lifted into seven of the site’s ten locks as well as repairs to historic brickwork and other parts of the lock structures.

With support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery the charity is opening up the works to the public with free open days taking place over the next four weekends. Giving visitors the rare opportunity to walk on the bottom of a drained lock and get a close-up look at the giant lock gates and historic stonework, the weekends will give people a new perspective on their local canal heritage.

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people in the bottom of drained lock
Visitors can walk down into the drained lock. PHOTOS: CRT

As well as the opportunity to walk down into a lock each weekend will include an activity giving visitors the chance to take part in photography workshops, guided walks, fishing taster sessions, traditional canal painting and a Lego big build. Visitors are advised to check the Trust’s website for details of the activities taking place each weekend.

CRT East Midlands director Phil Mulligan said: “People may have visited Foxton Locks many times before but they’ve probably never seen it quite like this, there’s nothing quite like descending down into one of the famous locks. It’s fascinating looking up at the giant oak lock gates and in some places you can even see the mason’s marks in the stonework from when the locks were built over 200 years ago.

“By opening up our work to the public we want to celebrate the hugely impressive feats of engineering created by previous generations, as well as showcase the care and craftsmanship that goes into maintaining them today.

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“The events promise to be a real experience but they will also give visitors the chance to have a go at a variety of fun and creative activities whether that’s traditional canal painting or getting involved in our Lego big build. Come along and enjoy some fresh air and quality family time at this amazing engineering marvel.”

The works are part of a six-month-long national programme of repairs to England and Wales’ waterways, where the charity is investing £43.6m repairing and restoring waterways across England & Wales this winter.

Before the locks were drained to allow the work to take place, a specialist ‘fish rescue’ took place to temporarily rehome thousands of fish in the sections of canal either side of Foxton.

To find out more, and to book on to specific activities, visit www.canalrivertrust.org.uk/enjoy-the-waterways/events/2020-02-15-open-day-at-foxton-locks

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