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Poetic flair at Stanley Ferry open day

Hundreds of visitors flocked to our open day at Stanley Ferry on Sunday to learn more about how we make lock gates and join in with an interactive poetry workshop run by Yorkshire poet Ian McMillan.

In a lyrical twist to the event, visitors were treated to some interactive poetry workshops by renowned Yorkshire poet, Ian McMillan as part of ‘Locklines' – an innovative arts project developed by Kate Maddison and Rick Faulkner of Chrysalis Arts..

During the event on Sunday more than 500 visitors of all ages took the opportunity to tour the woodworking workshop, engineering rooms, dry dock, view the ‘Tom Puddings'.

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. The workshop team make the new gates in around 20 days.

Steve Brunt, Stanley Ferry's workshop supervisor said: “Thousands of people drive by our workshop and millions visit the canals each year, but many might not realise what it takes to keep them in top working order. It's great for us to be able to give people the chance to learn more about waterways life as we have something really unique here.”


Visitors were also able to find out more about Locklines, a project supported by Art Council England aimed at encouraging people to stop and take a closer look at the canals that they live on or alongside, or explore in their leisure time. Four locks around the country have had poetry carved into their lock beams by the sculptor Peter Coates whose innovative lettering of words by Roy Fisher, Jo Bell and Ian McMillan, makes people stop and take a moment to think about their local canal.

Ian McMillan says: “Normally, as I writer, I see my words disappear into the air; sometimes they're preserved on a page but they'll eventually fade away. Now, with my words shining in the sun beside the water, beautifully carved into wood, they'll last forever, or as close to forever as makes no difference. This project has been a perfect partnership of words and visuals, of the kind I've wanted to do for a long time.”

Kate Maddison of Chrysalis Arts added: “I am really excited about this art project which brings two worlds together that I value and have been involved with for many years: that of contemporary public art and the canals and their heritage. I look forward to seeing a new era where high quality art and traditional skills can be combined in creative ways to delight us now and enrich the heritage of the canals into the future.”

Last Edited: 15 April 2013

photo of a location on the canals
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