We've begun work at Pollington Lock on the Aire & Calder Navigation to replace three sets of giant lock gates.
We're undertaking the mammoth task over the next two months to ensure the navigation can continue to be enjoyed for years to come.
The top, upper middle, and lower middle gates of Lock 13 are all being replaced as part of our winter works programme.
It is a particularly challenging task not only because of the requirements for relocating fish, draining and rewatering the lock, but also because the six new gates have to be brought in by boat because their sheer size means they exceed weight restrictions on local roads. Handmade at our Stanley Ferry workshop, the gates are built from European Oak, and each one weighs around six tonnes – about the same as a large male African elephant.
Work on site has begun with scaffolding and setting up of the pumps, and the removal of the walkways from the current locks. Divers will go into the canal this week (commencing 22nd January) to create the dams, and then the fish can be caught and relocated before the lock is drained.
After that, existing gates come out, new ones go in, and other maintenance work takes place such as mending lock ladders and renewing the concrete copings. By the middle of March the lock should be operating again.
Julian Rasen, our construction supervisor, said: "The Pollington Lock gates replacement is one of our biggest projects this winter and will ensure the Aire & Calder Navigation remains accessible to thousands of boats each year.
"These gates were last replaced around 20 years ago, so this is essential work before they become too old to function properly. It will take until mid-March to complete, so the navigation will be open again time for those Easter boat trips."