Every year we carry out a programme of restoration and repairs to the nation's historic waterways during the winter, to minimise the inconvenience of navigation closures to boaters during the busy summer season.
This month, locks at Marbury, Quoisley and the three lock staircase at Grindley Brook are all receiving a make-over to keep them operational and in good working order for the thousands of boaters who enjoy cruising the popular Llangollen Canal each year.
At Marbury, one of the old composite metal gates has been replaced with a new oak lock gate manufactured in the Trust's own specialist heritage workshop in Bradley, near Wolverhampton. At Quoisley, a failed wall below the lock chamber is being restored, reinforcing the canal channel for generations to come.
And at the landmark three lock staircase at Grindley Brook, each lock chamber is being improved with repairs to the gates, posts and chamber walls, including a new gate at the bottom.
Wynn Evans, our Llangollen Canal supervisor, explained: "The soil in this part of Shropshire is largely peat and at Quoisley the wall below the lock chamber needed serious reinforcement. Given that the canal is two hundred years old, Thomas Telford and William Jessop's masterpiece of engineering has survived remarkably well.
"Lock gates only have a working lifespan of two to three decades, so they do need to be replaced at fairly regular intervals. At Marbury the gate had come to the end of its natural life but at Grindley Brook bottom lock, one of the gates had been buckled through misuse. Work at this lock is costing over £33,000 so it was an expensive mistake to make."
New lock gates are hand-crafted using traditional methods in the Trust's specialist workshops. A single lock gate can take up to 20 days to make and in order for it to be watertight, it needs to be built very precisely, fitting tightly to the masonry of the lock walls and any other gate.
This winter we will be spending over £45million to restore around 164 lock gates across the country, as well as carrying out repairs to aqueducts, reservoirs and tunnels.