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News article created on 5 October 2012

Princess Royal visits historic lock gate workshops

Our Stanley Ferry lock gate workshop near Wakefield received a very special guest this morning. Her Royal Highness, the Princess Royal took a tour of the workshop to find out about the historical significance of the site.

The lock gates built at Stanley Ferry are used across England and Wales’ network of waterways. As there are no standardised sizes, each one has to be carefully built using traditional techniques to exact measurements. Each year the expert craftsmen at Stanley Ferry build over 200 lock gates which typically last around 25 years.

Her Royal Highness and the Royal Party were escorted around the workshops by our chairman, Tony Hales CBE. Each workshop focusses on a different aspect of lock gate construction, from setting out the English oak used to make each gate, undertaking the intricate steel work, making the mortice and tennon joints and shaping the heel and head posts, and finally the assembly of the finished lock gate.

Poetic lock gates

The also enabled Her Royal Highness to meet artist Peter Coates. We've commisioned Peter to work on a series of lock gates engraved with lines of poetry to commemorate the Trust's inaugural year.

Historically, Stanley Ferry workshops were used to manufacture the famous Tom Puddings, the freight trains of the waterways, and a restored Tom Pudding will be on display in the canal basin.

Tony Hales said: “We are thrilled that Her Royal Highness the Princess Royal is visiting our historic workshops, and witnessing the skill, craftsmanship and sheer scale of our teams work to ensure that the waterways are preserved for today’s visitors and future generations.”