Virtual open day on Grand Union Canal

We’ve been hard at work replacing lock gates at Watford Locks, a place where the tranquil Grand Union Canal crosses an old Jurassic coastline, runs parallel to a historic Roman road and meets the M1 motorway.

Our teams have been busy replacing lock gates at Watford Locks, a staircase of four locks with single locks at the top and bottom. Gates have been replaced at locks 3 and 7 but very different techniques have been used for each. At Lock 3, the bottom lock in the staircase, the gates had to be brought in by boat and lifted in position from within the lock. At Lock 7, where there is more space, the gates could be brought in by boat and lifted in using a more conventional crane.  

Elsewhere on the flight, historic brickwork was repaired and improvements were made to lock ladders.

Watford is a busy site for boating with 40-50 boats a day travelling through the locks on a summer’s day. We have a fantastic team of volunteer lock keepers there who help boaters through the locks and care for the lockside, even creating a canalside herb garden for boaters to help themselves.

Explore virtually

The project's videos

Introduction and history

Find out more about the Grade II listed Watford Lock Flight. 


Hear Penny Foster, one of our senior ecologists, about why it's so important to carry out these works during the winter months.

Fish rescue

Before the works could take place a special fish rescue was needed with specialist fish contractors wading through icy waters to safely and humanely scoop the fish up and put them back in the canal above the works.

Heritage restoration

Hear from one of heritage advisors, Kelly Walmsley on why it's so crucial that we look after this 200 years old flight.

The works

More details of the works being carried out.


See how a team of volunteers look after this stretch.

Last date edited: 14 March 2022