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News article created on 26 June 2015

Engineers bring in drones to inspect powerful River Trent weir

Engineers are turning to modern technology to overcome the problem of inspecting one of the fastest flowing river weirs in the country.

We've been using a drone camera to get a closer look at Cromwell Weir on the River Trent near Newark.

The weir, which marks the tidal limit of the Trent, stretches for around 105 metres from Cromwell Lock to the eastern bank of the river. With 18,000 gallons of water flowing over the weir every second, engineers were left with the problem of how to safely get a closer look. 

Large freight vessels

Experts from Survey Operations are set to overcome the problem by carefully flying a drone mounted camera over the weir at heights of 1m, 20m and 75m above the water surface. Engineers from the Trust will be looking carefully at the footage to try and find any damage to the weir or irregularities on the surface of the water which may point to problems below.

The present weir was built around 1960 but the original was designed to maintain enough depth for large freight vessels bringing goods inland from the Humber. Engineers inspect the weir regularly to check for any developing problems, and that it hasn’t been damaged by floating tree branches or other debris that occasionally gets washed over. Previous inspections have been carried out from the bank using binoculars but the use of a drone will give a much more detailed picture.

Challenges

Neil Besley, senior engineer for the Trust, said; “Cromwell Weir is one of the fastest flowing, most powerful weirs on our river network and so inspecting it certainly presents some challenges.

“By using a drone we’ll be able to get a much closer look than would be possible from the riverbank. This is an effective, economical and safe method of identifying problems early on.

“It’s a great example of how modern technology can help us care for the nation’s historic waterways.”