We've installed a new sign marking ‘Alfie's Lock', following a request from Alfie's family and the local boating community, to co-incide with Alfie's 86th birthday.
He was lock keeper at the site from the early 1980s, with a typical day helping boaters through the lock starting at 7am and finishing at 8pm. A hand-painted notice on the lock requests boaters contribute a Bounty chocolate bar to Alfie, in return for safe passage. Since retiring, he's continued to live in the lock house, and remains a hugely popular character with all those who use the river and its towpath.
Commenting on the recognition and celebration, Alfie, said: “It knocked me over with joy, it was the best day ever.”
Jacqui Shannon, who helped organise the event, said: “Alfie was utterly thrilled with the sign and we're delighted so many people turned out to join the celebration. A good day was had by all and Alfie, exhausted and happy, went off to bed with a big grin on his face.”
Dick Vincent, Canal & River Trust towpath ranger, said: “Alfie is a legend on this part of the Lee. His family told us he's not be very well recently and ask if there was any way we could recognise his amazing contribution to the area. Most people know this lock as 'Alfie's Lock' anyway, so it was a no brainer. It's been really popular with boaters and everyone who turned out to celebrate Alfie's birthday. The sign is a temporary, it'll revert back to Pickett's Lock in a month, but hopefully that'll be plenty of time for people passing through to see the signs and hopefully learn about Alfie and all that he has done here.”