Read the story of how the Canal & River Trust came to be
Work for us
We have vacancies across all of our waterways and in the offices, museums and attractions that support them. We're one of the UK's biggest charities and we take pride in everything we do
If you're thinking of getting in touch then please take a moment to look through these pages as we probably have the answer on our website
Planning & design
All you need to know about planning and design on our canals and rivers
Find a winter mooring
Find a cosy section of canal to hunker down in this winter
10 reasons to take up canoeing
It's a great way to get fit and explore our waterways at the same time
Share the Space
Take a look at our common sense guide to sharing the towpath
Find a place to fish
From reservoirs to club-managed canals and river stretches - find your nearest place to fish
Get your free guide
Download your free guide today and start exploring the waterway nature near you
Download your free guides
You've nine free days out guides to choose from - where will you go first?
Find a walk near you
Are you ready to ramble? Find a waterside stroll or a satisfying hike along our beautiful canals and rivers
Take a look at our upcoming events here.
Find your favourite waterway
With over 95 canals, rivers, reservoirs, docks and navigations, find out more about your favourite waterway
Something for everyone
Help us make a difference and have fun along the way. Find your perfect volunteer role today
Join our team
Could you join your local Towpath Taskforce team and help us to keep our canals looking lovely?
Desmond Family Canoe Trail
If you're aged 16-25 and would like to get involved with this exciting project, please get in touch
Could you be a volunteer lock keeper?
Find out what's involved with this popular volunteering opportunity
We love and care for your canals and rivers, because everyone deserves a place to escape.
With over 1,500 locks on our canals building new lock gates is a year-round job for us. Every single one of our lock gates is unique. To make sure our historic canals and rivers remain open for everyone to enjoy, we make all of our gates to measure at our own workshops.
When our canals and rivers were built there was no standard template for lock gates. They were constructed using a variety of techniques, designed to navigate the local landscapes. As a result no two locks on our canals and rivers are alike so when we’re building new lock gates, each one has to be sized up and built to the exact specifications for each lock.
An average lock gate lasts for about 25 years. As they come to the end of their working life they will get a visit from our carpenters, who measure it up, ready to be rebuilt back at the workshop. Usually it takes a couple of carpenters two weeks to build a pair of lock gates, but for the biggest gates it can take over a month.
Each lock gate is still hand-made by our skilled carpenters in the traditional way. We use green sustainably grown oak. Steel brackets are fitted to strengthen the joints of the gate to make sure it lasts.
Many of the cast iron fittings, for example the working paddle gear, are recycled and then reused on the new gates. Other bespoke metalwork such as hoops and collars are also made at our workshops.
The heavy design and construction is needed so that the gate holds up to the pressure of the canal water and can take the continual wear and tear from boats that pass through the lock.
We make lock gates all year round, though most are fitted during the winter months when the canals aren’t quite as busy. This means the gates can be stored for up to six months before being fixed to the lock.
All this time the gates have to be kept wet to make sure the timber doesn’t dry out and shrink. Each year the two workshops normally build 180 lock gates between them, at a cost of over £2 million.
Our workshops also help out in emergencies when something unexpected happens on our canals.
We get lots of instances where our lock gates are damaged and we need to get them repaired quickly so that everyone can enjoy that canal again. Emergency repairs to gates will normally involve the workshops supplying a part, or in some instances a whole new gate.
The majority of the lock gates we manufacture are for our own waterways, but on occasion our workshops have built gates for other navigation organisations and canal restoration societies.
If capacity allows, our workshops can also produce many other types of timber structures and machined timber, including bridges!
We need your help to continue our work. Become a Friend of the Trust today and make sure our wonderful waterways exist for future generations to enjoy
Last date edited: 25 November 2015