News article created on 6 February 2019

Canal lockage feels last summer's heat

Our Annual Lockage Report for 2018 has been published, which summaries the recorded usage of locks across our waterways.

Volunteer Lock Keepers

2018 saw an 11% reduction from the previous year in usage across 150 comparison sites. Whilst lock usage was affected by the long hot summer and water resources shortages, which led to a number of lock restrictions and canal closures, on canals where there were no closures or restrictions, there was very little change in lockage, and some increases were seen.

The Report also highlights the success of the Trust’s 1,114 volunteer lock keepers which were present at 111 registered lock keeper sites. Together they recorded just under 140,000 hours of lock keeping, with a survey suggesting that on an average week around 3,410 locks full of water were saved by their help.

Once again, Hillmorton Lock 2 & 3 was the busiest site on the network, with a total of 8,621 lockages, followed by New Marton Lock on the Llangollen Canal with 7,866 lockages.

Adam Comerford, national hydrology manager at the Canal & River Trust, comments: “The monitoring of lock operations across our waterways remains an essential element in our water resources management as well as providing an insight into any changing patterns in use across the network.

“The reasons for variances in lockage numbers year to year can be numerous and complex. Last summer was the third driest and second hottest in a series since 1910. Water resources driven closures and restrictions led to local reductions in lockage.

“I’d like to thank the boaters and the teams of volunteer lock keepers who worked hard to minimise water usage as the dry period continued by sharing of locks where possible.”

‘Lockage’ can be defined simply as lock usage through the filling and emptying of a lock chamber, which in turn allows the movement of water and passage of boats. It is important to distinguish lockage from boat movements, which are the actual number of boats which travel through a lock. The Trust separates boat movements from lockage to acknowledge that averages can be skewed by the boat:lockage ratio (in the case of a typical broad lock, the ratio can be between one and four boats per lockful of water used).

Read the Annual Lockage Report.