WORK has started on two pairs of lock gates removed from the Huddersfield Narrow Canal which will be the main feature in this year’s Welcome to Yorkshire RHS Chelsea show garden (May 21-15).
They will help to create a genuine slice of Yorkshire in the heart of London this May with the aim of encouraging people to visit the county to see its beauty first hand and experience the wellbeing benefits of its canal and waterway network.
The 2019 garden has been designed by Yorkshireman and award-winning garden designer Mark Gregory. Inspired by Yorkshire’s proud industrial heritage and stunning natural environment, the garden’s main feature is a canal, with authentic lock gates, which flows next to a wild perennial meadow and a lock keeper’s lodge with a cultivated garden.
The gates, which had come to the end of their lifespan in Huddersfield Narrow Canal – Britain’s highest canal – have been donated to Welcome to Yorkshire by national wellbeing and waterway charity the Canal & River Trust, who look after this canal. They are being adapted for use at the prestigious flower show at the charity’s Stanley Ferry Worksop, where they were first made 20 years ago.
Mark Gregory, Garden Designer said:
“These lock gates are essential for the authenticity of this year’s Welcome to Yorkshire Garden and will really bring the canal to life. It’s the very first time two pairs of genuine gates have featured in a garden at Chelsea and I’m incredibly grateful to Canal & River Trust for their support. The skill of the team at the workshop is second to none and I’m looking forward to working with Vanessa and Adam, I know they will make sure everything is just right for the garden, which I hope will be the perfect showcase for Yorkshire and it’s wonderful waterways.”
Workshop Supervisor Steven Brunt has worked at the Stanley Ferry site for 40 years, where the lock gets would have been crafted two decades ago. Steve’s son, Steven James, is also employed at the workshop.
Steven said: “Each lock has a unique heritage, meaning every lock is unique, bespoke and hand-finished. Vanessa and Adam have been specialising in carpentry and joinery, to learn the traditional techniques required to work on lock gates. We’re delighted to be able to share our skills and expertise to help showcase the county’s spectacular waterways to the world through this beautiful canal-themed garden.”
Two of the Canal & River Trust’s recently qualified apprentices Vanessa Coakley and Adam Cluny will be working alongside garden designer Mark Gregory to ensure the authenticity of all elements on the Welcome to Yorkshire garden.
Following a HLF-funded traineeship and two-year NVQ Level 3 apprenticeship in Heritage, Conservation and Restoration, Vanessa and Adam are now in full-time employment as Craft Operatives for the Trust.
Vanessa Coakley, craft operative and former apprentice at the Canal & River Trust said: “Before my apprenticeship I studied art and didn’t even know how to work a drill and now I’m working on two-tonne lock gates for a garden at one of the world’s most prestigious flower shows! Thanks to Mark Gregory, Welcome to Yorkshire and Canal & River Trust for this fantastic opportunity, I’m really excited to be part of this project that celebrates our living waterways.”
Adam Cluny, craft operative and former apprentice at the Canal & River Trust added: “I used to live near Huddersfield Narrow Canal and would regularly cycle or walk along it with my family. It’s a stunning stretch, with superb scenery, historic mills and industrial buildings. From my own experience of working and living by the canal, I know how spending time by water can really help you feel happier and healthier. I hope Welcome to Yorkshire’s garden will encourage more people to get out and enjoy their local waterway and visit this wonderful part of Britain.”
Peter Dodd, Commercial Director at Welcome Yorkshire said:
“The RHS Chelsea Flower Show is a brilliant opportunity to showcase our great county to the world and it’s vital we capture the true essence of Yorkshire. The attention to detail in the garden is so important and the Canal & River Trust are making sure we get it just right. I know when people see the finished garden they will be inspired to visit the county and experience its many brilliant qualities for themselves; whether that’s the stunning canals and waterways, dramatic coastline, our great cities, picturesque villages or world class food, drink arts and culture.”