Our engineers were stunned to discover the safes along with a car engine, beer barrels, a small sunken boat and other debris when they drained North Lock on the River Soar for routine maintenance. The rubbish was revealed after the water was emptied in order to make important repairs to the lock gates and to inspect the 200-year-old brickwork.
The discovery of so much debris is a complete contrast to the renaissance of the city's waterways where the cleaner water has recently attracted otters back to the city for the first time in 30 years and where kingfishers and other wildlife have become commonplace.
We are now sending a team in to clear the lock with a long-range excavator to remove the rubbish before the important maintenance works can get underway. Leicestershire Police are also set to visit the lock to examine the safes.
Darren Green, waterway manager for the Canal & River Trust, said: “Leicester's waterways are great family places, and in recent years the cleaner water has enabled newts, kingfishers and even otters to thrive in the city.
“That's why discoveries like this, albeit rare, are so shocking. To find this amount of rubbish in just one lock is pretty outrageous – whoever dumped the safes could at least have left some money in one to help us cover the costs!
“On a serious note though, the most important thing is that people take better care of the city's canals so that they are safe place for families to escape to and also to make sure that there aren't any problems for boats passing through.”