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News article created on 6 September 2016

Step back in time and explore historic lock and waterside workshops

Local people are being invited to explore one of North Yorkshire’s hidden waterway gems as part of a special open day this weekend.

Naburn Lock

The Trust, is inviting members of the public along to Naburn Lock on Sunday 11 September to explore the site which was once a thriving inland port and a vital trade route into York.

The first lock was built almost three hundred years ago (1727) and turned the tidal River Ouse into York into a constant freight highway available to merchants and businesses around the clock. Together with a second larger lock opened by Prince Albert in 1888, they allowed the transport of coal and flour as well as cocoa and sugar to the likes of the factories at Rowntree’s and Terry’s of York.

Naburn Lock and its associated buildings have been undergoing a renovation by the Trust and local volunteers with the aim of opening up the site to local people and creating a visitor centre.

Historic buildings

As part of the open day visitors will be able to have a look around the locks and historic buildings at the site which used to service the former flour mill – a local landmark which was destroyed by fire in the 1960s. The buildings are quite unique and include a blacksmith's forge and workshop that contain a water powered belt driven lathe, shaping machine and industrial drilling machine. There is also an historic crane that would have been used to load and unload freight boats.

Families will also be able to have a go at a range of fun activities organised by the Trust’s Explorers education team. There will also be live folk and blues music, food and craft stalls and the York Rescue Boat team will be speaking to people about their work and giving live demonstrations of river rescues. 

Over the last 30 years the buildings have gradually fallen into disrepair, with the machinery in place regularly being flooded. Volunteers have been busy since 2015 cleaning the workshops up, repairing the machinery and transforming the open space.

Jon Horsfall, waterway manager for the Trust, said: "In its day Naburn would have been a thriving inland port, and the heart of the local community. The place would be packed with loaded barges, people and horses would be going about their daily business and there would be a wonderful array of sights, sounds and smells.

"This open day will hopefully help to bring the site to life once more and we hope lots of people come along and take a step back in time into their local history.

"We’ve got ambitious plans in the pipeline to open up Naburn workshops permanently to visitors and so hopefully this is just the beginning of an exciting future for the site."

The Open Day takes place between 10am and 4pm on Sunday 11 September at Naburn Locks, Naburn, York YO19 4RU.