It can take between five to 20 days to manufacture a gate, meet the people that make them and discover their stories
"Building lock gates is a niche skill and one that is passed through generations, from those that have worked here for years onto apprentices, but there’s something extra special about being able to pass it on to your own son. I worked with my Dad too, he’s 91 now but years ago he was a rugby league physio at Dewsbury – the same club I played at. It builds a closer relationship and impacts on the wider family too. It makes us all closer as a result.
Unusually we’ve got three sets of fathers and sons working together here in the workshop, but it feels like one big family and we’re all very proud of the work we do. When you look at the history of the canals we’re part of that too. We’re following on from the work that was done 150 years ago, which we’re continuing and the next generation will too. Eventually our work becomes part of history and part of the movement that started an industrial revolution. Without that, none of us might be where we are today.
There are only two workshops in the country still making lock gates but I think will go from strength to strength. Seeing people out and about, walking their dogs and talking to people on their boats makes us feel more involved with the public. The Open Days are another opportunity for people to come in and see what we do and what actually goes into making a lock gate and keeping the canals flowing. The waterways are such an important place for people to enjoy today and in the future and long may it continue, because there’s no other industry like it." (Steve)
"I’m retiring this year, but between me and Kevin we’ve worked here for over 50 years and every day is different! Each canal has its own quirks, as do the gates that we make. That’s what makes it exciting. I enjoy coming into work every day and I’m still learning constantly. Although technology has improved, our methods have remained largely the same. It feels good to know we’re still working in a traditional way and playing our part in keeping up the heritage of the canals.” (John)
"Even though we build lock gates to last 25-30 years, I’ve been here long enough now to see some of my original gates come back into the workshop to be replaced by me again. Richard hasn’t experienced that yet, he’s not been here quite long enough. He’s come a long way though since he started as an apprentice all those years ago. He is now mentoring apprentices of his own. Now it’s his turn to pass on the skills that I taught him, as well as the skills he has learnt himself" (Roy)
Last date edited: 11 January 2017