to go behind-the-scenes at Kentish Town Lock in London’s famous Camden Town, as one of a series of 15 public open day events being held across England and Wales this winter.
Kentish Town Lock, known locally as Camden Locks, is on the Regent’s Canal which winds its way through the heart of the capital from Paddington to Limehouse in East London. It was constructed between 1818 and 1820 by James Morgan, and is one of the busiest locks on the canal. Last year nearly 2,000 boats travelled through it.
50,000 gallons of water, the equivalent of 1,000 bath tubs, will be emptied from the lock chamber and visitors will be invited to climb down into the drained area and walk along the 200-year-old brickwork - seeing up close one of the finest examples of working heritage in the world.
The repair works will cost £100,000 and involve highly skilled craftsmanship; both the top and bottom gates are being replaced and the new ones will weigh over two tonnes each. Other minor brickwork repairs to the lock chamber will also be carried out. The works are expected to take six weeks and the lock is planned to be operational again by mid-February.
Graham Smith, Canal & River Trust construction supervisor, says: “Repairing the lock gates at Kentish Town Lock is part of the essential maintenance needed to enable the local canal network to be used and enjoyed by boaters, cyclists, anglers and walkers.
“We are opening up the site to visitors on the weekend of 23rd and 24th January, providing a unique opportunity for people to venture to the bottom of the drained lock chamber. Visitors will get a guided tour by one of our expert historians who will explain about the repair works we are doing here. The lock gates haven’t been replaced since the early 1990s and are unlikely to be replaced again for another 25 years, so this really is a rare opportunity for visitors.”
As part of its maintenance programme, the Trust will be working on around 164 lock gates across the country as well as carrying out repairs to aqueducts, reservoirs and tunnels. Many of the biggest projects are carried out during the winter months to minimise the impact on waterway users.
The event is taking place on Saturday 23rd and Sunday 24th January, 10am-4pm both days. Last entry into the lock will be at 3.30pm. Sturdy footwear is recommended for walking in the drained lock chamber, if footwear is deemed inappropriate entry will not be allowed.
Access to the site is via Chalk Farm Road or Kentish Town Road, site postcode is NW1 8AF. Please note that car parking is not available. Public transport is the best way to get to the site, the nearest stations are Camden Town on the Northern Line or Camden Road on the London Overground.