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News article created on 2 April 2013

Meet Ian McMillan at our lock gate factory open day

As part of an collaboration between the Canal & River Trust and Arts Council England, Yorkshire Poet Ian McMillan will be making a special guest appearance at our Stanley Ferry Workshop Open Day in Wakefield this April.

Stanley Ferry Workshop will be throwing open its doors on Sunday 14 April to give members of the public a unique insight into the skilled craftsmanship required in lock gate making – one of the oldest traditions of the waterways.

As part of locklines, an innovative arts project to commemorate the inaugural year of Canal & River Trust and to attract more visitors to Britain’s waterways, Ian McMillan will bring his dynamic character to a series of interactive poetry workshops. The Locklines project has been developed by Kate Maddison and Rick Faulkner of Chrysalis Arts.

Carving demonstrations

Artist, Peter Coates, a highly skilled contemporary artist with a background in architectural sculpture and lettering, has been working with the Stanley Ferry Workshop team to carve and inlay poetry by Jo Bell, Roy Fisher and Ian McMillan into four locks. Throughout the open day Peter will be showcasing his skill with some carving demonstrations. 

Arts development manager Tim Eastop says: “There is a long-standing link between arts and the waterways - indeed, the canal locks we use today are based on Leonardo da Vinci’s design for a lock at San Marco in Milan in 1497. Art has a fantastic capacity to surprise and challenge and we are exploring a whole range of projects which we hope will encourage people to visit and support the waterways. We hope that this project makes people smile and take a moment to stop and think about the wonderful canals that are on their doorsteps.”

Unique opportunity

Steve Brunt, Stanley Ferry’s workshop supervisor adds: “As one of only two such workshops in the country this is a unique opportunity for those wanting to learn about the construction of lock gates, see our machinery up close and speak to our skilled craftsmen about the processes involved.

“Lock gate making is an extremely skilled and traditional trade and one that remains essential to the waterways. Due to their varied history, every canal is different so there is no standard design. Therefore, every individual lock gate is unique to its canal and has to be hand crafted to achieve a water-tight fit in its chamber to carry out its 25-30 year working life. This is a great event for all the family to find out more about the Trust’s work.”

Ian’s interactive workshops will be at three slots during the day at 11:30am, 1:00pm and 2:30pm. The Open Day will run on Sunday 14 April between 10-4pm (last entry 3:30pm). No pre-booking required. Parking is available on the grass field opposite the workshop off Ferry Lane / Birkwood Lane (before the canal road bridge – WF6 2JF).