From old waterway lock gates to picnic benches, bird boxes and much more.....

Over the past six months we’ve been working with H.M. Prison Service and Fresh Start New Beginnings, a charity which works to reduce re-offending in the West Midlands, on a trial project to establish the benefits of prisoners recycling a proportion of our old lock gates.

Picnic bench from old lock gate
Picnic bench from old lock gate
Boaters were impressed by the quality and history associated with the items and he hopes to order more soon.
Steve O’Sullivan, waterway supervisor

Thanks to the help of Canal & River Trust waterway supervisors, Wynn Evans and Howard Griffiths at Ellesmere, 15 old lock gates from the Montgomery Canal restoration project were made available and transported to Shrewsbury Prison, where supervising staff and three prisoners began the long and difficult task of dismantling the gates, removing steel brackets, nails, rods and paddle runners.

After being dismantled and machined, the reclaimed timber was then turned into three picnic benches (including one suitable for disabled access). The benches were delivered to Devizes and placed next to the Kennet & Avon Canal. A further four benches were ordered by the Manchester & Pennine Waterway office and are now sat next to the Trent & Mersey Canal near Anderton.

Steve O’Sullivan, waterway supervisor said: "Boaters were impressed by the quality and history associated with the items and he hopes to order more soon."

Bird boxes and notice boards

The initial success of the project indicates that up to 80 gates per year could be recycled by the Shrewsbury project and the hope is to introduce the concept to more areas in the future

The quality and quantity of the reclaimed timber means that in addition to benches, further items such as bird boxes, owl boxes, notice boards, finger posts and benches with more unusual designs can easily be produced.

We are currently speaking with businesses in the area and looking to develop ways of introducing the products for sale to a wider commercial and public market.

Three-year plan

The next stage is to finalise a business plan and financial review to find out if enough business can be generated to sustain the project for the next three years.

Anyone interested in purchasing products should contact Rob Williams, senior procurement manager

Last Updated: 16 October 2012