A project to restore the historic Carpenters Road Lock in Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park reaches its pivotal stage this week, with the installation of two giant new lock gates.
The work is being carried out by us, and is one of the final pieces of a ten-year programme to restore the Bow Back Rivers and preserve an important part of London’s industrial heritage.
The new gates, which weigh over 14 tonnes each – heavier than a London bus – are being carefully swung into position using a 350-tonne crane.
They are the only ‘double radial lock gates’ - two convex-shaped gates swing up vertically to enable boats to pass through - anywhere in the country and will provide the opportunity to navigate from the waterways around the former Olympic Stadium to Waterworks River, which in turn runs south, eventually out to the River Thames. They will also ensure that the lock plays an important role in flood prevention, with the gates being automated to enable flood water to be distributed to channels within the Bow Back Rivers.
The project is being led by the Trust and includes £680,000 funding from the Heritage Lottery Fund, £100,000 from the London Legacy Development Corporation and £4,500 from the Inland Waterways Association. Work has also included repairing the lock walls and rebuilding the counter balance weights that enable the gates to open.
Carpenters Road Lock was built in the 1930s, however in the second half of the 20thcentury, the Bow Back Rivers fell out of use and the lock became unusable, with the last passage through it by boat recorded in the 1960s. The advent of the London 2012 Games saw major works bringing new life to the waterways in what is now Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.
Colin Perkins, our project manager, said: "The Bow Back Rivers have been transformed over the last ten years and Carpenters Road Lock is the last piece of the jigsaw, so it’s hugely exciting to be at this crucial point. The lock gates have been built to extremely precise specifications, so it’s only when we swing them into the lock on a crane that we’ll know for sure that they’re a perfect fit. Working around the bridge over the lock also adds to the challenge.
"Carpenters Road Lock is hugely important from both a heritage and engineering point of view. Getting it restored will also create a new route for boaters in this part of London, at a time when boating in the capital is more popular than ever. Subject to how the gate installation goes we’re aiming to have the lock open by the end of August."
To celebrate the restoration, alongside our partners, we are planning a range of community events and activities, including an East London Waterway Festival on 28 August, so people can learn about the history of the lock and rivers. The event will include free boat trips, water sports activities and a film screening with Nomad Cinema.