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News article created on 7 April 2014

Super-sized canal gates keep Gloucester safe

We’re investing £300,000 to replace four giant safety gates on the Gloucester & Sharpness Canal. The work, which will be completed this month, will see new 12-tonne structures installed to replace the existing gates, which are now decades old.

The work is quite specialised, especially because the gates are so heavy and need to be positioned perfectly in the water. Nick Worthington

Two of the super-sized gates at Parkend were replaced last week. Another two will be replaced this week at Purton. They form part of series of gates along the canal that form a safety barrier in the event of a breach. In an emergency the gates will close automatically to ensure any flood risk is controlled for Gloucester and the communities along the length of the canal to Sharpness. Unlike the large majority of the nation’s canals, the Gloucester & Sharpness does not have any locks, which typically provide this essential safety feature.

At Parkend divers helped secure the old gates to a crane so they could be winched out, before helping to fit each of the bespoke new gates as they are safely lowered into position in the canal.

Nick Worthington, Canal & River Trust waterway manager, said: “These giant gates are really important to make sure we can control the water in the Gloucester & Sharpness Canal in the event of an emergency.

Millions of litres of water

“Fortunately they haven’t had to be used in a real scenario for a number of years, but with the canal being 17 miles long and up to five metres deep, that is millions of litres of water, so we need to be prepared and the gates need to be in top condition. The work is quite specialised, especially because the gates are so heavy and need to be positioned perfectly in the water.

“The canal is great for the local area. We’ve got a busy spring and summer ahead of us with thousands of people expected to use the waterway in some way from Gloucester all the way down to Sharpness. So we’ll be pleased to get this bit of work done, before things get really busy.”