Sunday, 26 January 2014

Loughborough Lock Open Day

Yesterday C&RT held an Open Day at Loughborough Lock to show members of the public how a lock works and also to show boaters exactly what works have been done while the lock has been closed for the past 3 weeks. It re-opens tomorrow, Monday 27th. I was surprised at how many people had turned up and when we we arrived at 1.00pm there was quite a long queue for the tour.

The large rubble bags on the opposite bank contain all the debris they had removed from the bottom of the lock. They had been stacked up to drain most of the water out of them before they were sent to the tip as C&RT have to pay by weight rather than volume.

Unusually, they had also removed all the mud and silt and found that the bottom was lined in timber. Our tour guide was Darren who is the C&RT engineer in charge of this area and he told us he has never come across a timber bottomed lock before.

The total cost for the works was just under £30,000 with scaffolding being a major part of the cost. Before H&S went crazy these types of works used to be done from a ladder but now they have to erect full scaffold and stairways to access the bottom of the lock.

They were still finishing off some pointing work.

This is the planking dam they use at either end of the lock. They used ash and clinker from the local steam railway to infill between the planks to make them water tight.

This is the dam above the top gates.

The concrete plinth below the sand bags is a kind of speed bump which heavily laden working boats would rub up against to slow them down before they rammed into the main cill which is timber framed and could be easily damaged. That damage would be difficult to easily repair and would result in the gates not sealing properly.

You can see the repairs they've made to the edges of the lock gates to make them seal better. These gates were replaced about 8 years ago and usually last around 25 years so by patching them up like this they should get another 10 - 15 years out of them.

They've also done some brickwork repairs to seal the lock gates better where they hinge.

This shows the timber edging on the top cill a bit clearer.

The lock was drained by 3 huge pumps, one of which was running constantly to cope with any leakage.

You can see just how deep the lock is under the water level. The end wall is the top cill and the hole in the wall is where water rushes in from the ground paddles.

It was well worth the visit and Darren was an excellent guide. He was really good at explaining the lock to the little children in our group as well as giving much more detailed technical explanations to us boaters. He was also prepared to answer general boating questions as were Richard Parry and Simon Salem who were in attendance. I'll say one thing for C&RT, since they took over they have certainly been far more approachable and willing to listen to boater's opinions about how they should run the system than the old BW were. Whether they act on any of our ideas/problems will have to be seen but I definitely can't knock them for trying.

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