Restoration of Carpenters Road Lock

Discover why there is now a bright future ahead for Carpenters Road Lock and the Bow Back Rivers.

New gates for Carpenters Road Lock New gates for Carpenters Road Lock

The Bow Back Rivers spent the decades after the 1950s becoming less and less attractive. People dumped car tyres or even whole cars into the water, and nature took over wherever it could take root.

Elsewhere on Britain's waterways the situation was starting to improve. More and more people were finding canals and rivers to be an excellent place to live or take a holiday. Gradually walkers, cyclists and joggers used the towpaths to keep fit and get away from the city traffic. When the Trust was formed in 2012 to protect the future of the waterways, things became even brighter.

However, in the years before this the Bow Back Rivers were not even accessible to the rest of the waterway network. Then in 2005 the International Olympic Committee voted to hold the 2012 Olympics in London and this heralded a fresh dawn for the lower Lea Valley. The largest new urban park seen in Britain for over a century would bring homes, schools and visitors to the area.

Restoration of Carpenters Road Lock Restoration of Carpenters Road Lock

As part of this regeneration, Carpenters Road Lock was given a complete overhaul to bring the unique double radial gates back into operation and allow boats to access the Bow Backs. Built in the 1930s, the lock design included two convex-shaped gates that lifted up vertically to enable boats to pass through. This pioneering arrangement made its restoration a significant engineering challenge.

Our skilled engineers built new gates, designed new gantries and lifting mechanisms, and prepared the lockside for visitors.

Today Carpenters Road Lock is ready to lift again, to control floodwater and to allow boats to pass underneath its gates into the rivers around the London Stadium. Like Standedge Tunnel, Anderton Boat Lift and other engineering marvels of the waterways, we’ve ensured it has evolved a new purpose while staying true to its original and unique heritage.

The nuts and bolts

Find out more about the restoration process at Carpenters Road Lock.

Where were the new locks manufactured?
Steel fabricator in Sheffield (Mayflower Engineering Limited)

What is unique, unusual about them?
They are the only set of vertical lift double radial gates in the country, perhaps in the world

How heavy are the radial lock gates? 
Complete with fenders and buffers, the gates are approximately 14 tonne each

Is the design similar to the original? 
Yes, the gates and lifting mechanism are a direct copy of the originals

Who designed them? 
The gates were originally designed by Ransome & Rapier in Ipswich, this time around they were designed in conjunction with ARCADIS & KGAL

What  are they made  of? 
Steel gates, originally riveted together now will be replicated with bolted connections

How does the lock work? 
Each gate will lift on wire ropes  and pulleys via an overhead gantry with two counter balance weights either side. The weights will rise and fall within the steel gantry superstructure spanning the lock

How long will it take?
Each lock cycle takes 15 minutes

Why design lifting locks again, why not use conventional mitred gates?
The lifting locks are a unique piece of engineering history with links back to the patented ‘Stoney Sluice,’ the forerunner to the modern sluice gates and an early iteration before the switch to modern horizontal radial gates.

Hydraulics are not involved, the gates lift mechanically via electric motors and the counter balance arrangement.

Last date edited: 11 November 2020