We have reached the the midway point of a five-year major restoration project at the Tees Barrage.
Costing an estimated £3 million in total, with a £525,000 contribution towards the project thanks to players of the People’s Postcode Lottery, the project is the most extensive repairs programme to be undertaken at the Barrage to date. All four gates and cylinders, fundamental components of the Barrage, are being refurbished for the first time since it opened in 1995.
A 150-tonne crane and team of our expert engineers worked through the night on Sunday 11 October to complete the latest series of works, to refurbish the second of the four original 12-metre long cylinders used to operate the 88-tonne belly gates of the Barrage. The carefully managed process involved refilling with river water the caissons in front of the belly gates before using the crane, aided by specialist divers, to take out the enormous planks that have been holding back the river water and allowing the refurbishment to take place.
Sean McGinley, our director for Yorkshire and North East, said: “With controlled water flow of the River Tees, to prevent flooding and the effects of tidal change, the Tees Barrage continues to play a fundamental role in regenerating the Tees waterfront. It helps to create an attractive place to enjoy watersports, recreational activities, spotting wildlife and relaxing with friends and family.
“Of the many structures our charity looks after, Tees Barrage is truly unique, unlike anywhere else on our network. Thanks to the generous support of players of People’s Postcode Lottery we can ensure the longevity of the Barrage for generations to come.”
George Poole from the Trust has been project managing the restoration programme. He added: “It’s been a complex project and it’s great to reach this midway point in the project. With the cylinders expected to have another 25-year lifespan, it’ll be a long time before we get to see something like this again – so a great opportunity to see behind the scenes just some of the work we do across the charity.”
We are keen to encourage more people to take advantage of their local canal or river as research shows that spending time by water is good for both physical and mental health.
The construction of the Tees Barrage has made the area a visitor hotspot and has seen watersports in the area flourish, with canoeing, dragon boat racing, jet skiing, paddleboarding, rowing, windsurfing, water-skiing, white water rafting, sailing, angling and even powerboat racing all taking place.
Tees Barrage cost £55 million to build and is an impressive structure standing 70 metres wide. It is celebrating its 25th anniversary this year.
The construction included a lock for boat navigation, fish passes for migratory fish and it even generates electricity from tidal power.