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News article created on 2 October 2012

Students help repair heritage locks on the Grand Union Canal

We're working with trainee bricklayers from Milton Keynes College to help restore a series of locks on the Grand Union Canal in Northamptonshire.

We are hoping that the students will learn lots about the traditional art of heritage bricklaying and enjoy the challenge of working with brick work that is nearly 200 years old and steeped in history. Spencer Green

Over the years the 12 narrow locks on the Rothersthorpe Lock Flight, which is located on the Northampton Arm of the Grand Union Canal, have suffered from wear and tear as a result of boats knocking into the gates and lock walls.

The Grade II locks on this flight are extremely popular as this section of waterway is a key route for boaters wanting to access the centre of Northampton and the River Nene.

The £100,000 project involves completely draining the lock flight and carrying out brickwork repairs to all 12 of the locks. The team of trainee brick layers will be assisting us by helping rebuild and carry out vital repairs such as repointing to the lock chamber walls. They will also be replacing broken bricks with new bricks ensuring they match as closely as possible to the original bricks used.

Heritage bricklaying

Spencer Green, project manager from the Canal & River Trust, said: “We are delighted that the students from Milton Keynes College are able to come and help us with this project. We are hoping that the students will learn lots about the traditional art of heritage bricklaying and enjoy the challenge of working with brick work that is nearly 200 years old and steeped in history. We have a lot of work for them to get on with and hope to really test and help to further develop their bricklaying skills.”

Clifford Clarke from Milton Keynes College adds: “It’s great that the Canal & River Trust is able to give our students some real hands-on experience with bricklaying and allow them the opportunity to put into practice what they have learned during their course. This project is really unique and we are delighted to be able to be a part of it.”

Three students per day will be available to help maintenance teams with the brickwork repairs and will be supervised at all times.