Volunteers Give Canal Charity Helping Hand to Spring Clean UK’s Deepest Lock


Canal & River Trust volunteers have given the UK’s deepest single lock a special spring clean, as the charity prepares its historic waterways for a busy year of boating.

Volunteer Maureen Readle removes debris from Tuel Lane Lock,the Uk's deepest lock chamber.
Volunteer Maureen Readle removes debris from Tuel Lane Lock, the Uk’s deepest lock chamber.

Maureen Readle was among the volunteers getting stuck in to help to clear tonnes of leaves from the bottom of the partially drained 20ft-deep lock chamber which have accumulated over winter.  

She explained: “I’ve enjoyed lots and lots of canal boating holidays with my husband, we wanted to help give back to the canals by volunteering when we retired.  We get involved in all sorts of activities around Todmorden, litter picking, painting locks, and managing vegetation. I have also adopted a stretch of the canal too, which my husband and I look after.

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Volunteers removes debris from Tuel Lane Lock,the Uk's deepest lock chamber
Volunteers removes debris from Tuel Lane Lock,the Uk’s deepest lock chamber

The great thing about volunteering with the Canal & River Trust is having the opportunity chance to do all sorts of things and spend time outdoors by the water. I’ve never worn a pair of waders before, and I’ve been waist-high in water, helping to look after the UK’s deepest lock!”  

The charity recently launched its biggest-ever volunteering campaign to ask the nation for help in protecting its precious 250-year-old network of waterways and historic structures by spending some time by the water and making a difference.

Tuel Lane Lock on the Rochdale Canal in Sowerby Bridge, West Yorkshire, is one of the Trust’s most remarkable locks, lowering and raising boats almost 20ft (6m) as they make their journeys over the Pennines. For comparison, a typical double-decker bus is 4.4m.

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Unusually, because of the depth of the Tuel Lane Lock and its proximity to a canal tunnel, members of the public are not permitted to operate the lock mechanisms themselves.  Instead, the award-winning lockkeepers help crews to negotiate the gates.

The lock is so deep because it does the work of two.  Built in 1996 during the restoration of the Rochdale Canal, it replaced a pair of earlier locks to enable the canal to tunnel under a road built on its original level and provide a more efficient route. 

Britain’s canals are more popular than ever before, with more boats using them than at the height of the Industrial Revolution and new research shows that spending time on the water can be a perfect prescription to improve health and well-being.

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Find out more about Canal & River Trust and how you can volunteer by visiting: www.canalandrivertrust.org.uk

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