One of Wootton Rivers Bottom Lock gates
being removed last winter.
Picture by Bob Naylor
More sets of lock gates were replaced on the Kennet & Avon Canal last winter than on any other BW waterway and the plan is to do the same next winter because, says Waterway Manager, Mark Stephens, "Many of the lock gates are not up to scratch at the moment . . . far from it — but I have said that if we are given the gates we will put them on — and we are being taken seriously.
"British Waterways Central like waterways that achieve what they've been given the resources to do. That's what we do on this waterway. We get the gates and we do the job and as a consequence we get extra ones."
The lock gates Mark and his team plan to replace next winter include Hanham Lock (1)
where the K&A navigation meets the tidal River Avon. Because of tidal variation they need to take heed of the tides — and they can't leave it too late because of the risk of flood water later in the winter so they are planning to start that four week project in September.
Crofton Locks: 55, 58, 59 and 60
These gates leak badly — and some are on the verge of collapse. Very good reasons, says Mark, to replace them because the amount of money it costs to keep putting water back on the summit which then just comes back down through the flight is a major concern.
And also because they are quite close together it is very economical to do them in a group. Mark said, "Arguably there are other locks elsewhere that are in worse condition but I can get more done for less money if I choose to do those four. They are all justifiable replacements and they are going to save me pumping costs as well."
Those lock gate replacements are planned to be completed before Christmas — starting in late October.
In the new year, Hungerford Marsh (73) and Monkey Marsh (90) are planned for January. Monkey Marsh was on the schedule for last winter but was carried-over because of other more pressing works. Wire Lock (76) is planned for February.
In all they plan to replace 12 sets of gates at a cost of £750,000.
British Waterways will publish the winter stoppage programme for 2011/20012 on 9th May and comments will be welcomed until 3rd June.