The Old Main Line Canal running through Wolverhampton is set for a makeover as part of a programme which will see lock gates replaced and historic brickwork restored.
The works are being carried out by skilled craftsmen and engineers from the Canal & River Trust, the charity that cares for 2,000 miles of waterways, as part of its annual winter maintenance programme.
The works on the Wolverhampton Flight will see £120,000 invested in installing new lock gates, repairing brickwork and replacing lock ladders which enable boaters to climb up out of locks. Work is expected to be completed in early February.
In order for the repairs to take place sections of the canal will be drained of water and hundreds of fish rescued and moved to other parts of the canal. The old lock gates can then be lifted out by a crane and new ones fitted.
The new lock gates are hand-crafted using traditional methods in the Trust’s specialist workshops at Bradley in the West Midlands and Stanley Ferry in Yorkshire. A single lock gate can take up to 20 days to make and has a working life of between 25 and 30 years. In order to be watertight they need to be built very precisely, fitting tightly to the masonry of the lock walls and to each other.
Ian Lane, waterway manager for the Canal & River Trust said: “The Wolverhampton Flight is a real local landmark but people may not realise that there’s quite a lot of work needed to look after it. We’re investing quite a bit of money into new lock gates and repairing the 200 year-old brickwork.
“It’s painstaking, specialised work but the canal is an important part of the region’s heritage so it’s right that we devote some time and craftsmanship to help continue its restoration and protect it for future generations. The new hand-crafted lock gates will help to conserve water and keep the canal running smoothly so everyone can enjoy it.”
This winter the Trust will be spending over £45million to restore around 164 lock gates across the country, as well as carrying out repairs to aqueducts, reservoirs and tunnels.
To find out more about the Restoration & Repairs programme and the open days happening across the country go to www.canalrivertrust.org.uk
The works on the Wolverhampton Flight will include:
· Replacing a lock ladder, which enables boaters to climb up out of the lock, at lock 1
· Replacing the top gates at lock 7 as well as repairing stonework within the lock chamber
· Installing new top and bottom gates and restoring brickwork at lock 9
· Replacing the bottom gates at lock 12 and repairing the lock walls and ladders
· Putting new bottom gates in at lock 21 as well as works to the lock walls and ladders