HUGE new oak gates had to be craned into place during a £125,000 project to revamp Ickles Lock on the Sheffield and South Yorkshire Navigation canal.
The work was carried out by British Waterways as part of a £50 million winter maintenance programme, at a time of year when traffic on the waterways is light.
At Ickles Lock, both sets of gates were lifted out by crane and replaced with new ones.
Work to fit new balance beams and cills and repair the lock chamber wall was also carried out.
Jon Horsfall, British Waterways’ waterway manager for the North East said: “Lock gate making and fitting is an extremely skilled and traditional trade; and one that remains essential to the waterways. Lock gates are constructed with tremendous strength as they have to control huge water pressures, take the hard usage they get from the thousands of boats which use them each year and survive for a long time underwater and at the mercy of the elements.”
He added: “The waterways are a much-loved national asset that are a tremendous example of our industrial heritage. These are all essential works to keep the waterways in the best possible condition we can for the benefit of the millions of customers who visit them each year.
“Next year the waterways in England and Wales will leave state control to become an exciting new charity – the Canal and River Trust. We’re hoping that this will attract new investment and give local people a greater role in how their waterways are run.”
In order to be waterproof, lock gates need to be built very precisely, fitting tightly to the masonry of the lock walls and to each other.
As different canals were originally built by individual pre-Victorian entrepreneurs, each one varies from the other and there is no standard design.
British Waterways looks after 1,650 lock gates across the country and over the next few months over 100 hand-crafted British oak lock gates will be replaced during the winer maintenance programme.
The average lock gate has a life span of 25 years, during which time it will be opened and closed countless number of times as it raises and lowers boats from one level to another.