This weekend we opened up the impressive Dowley Gap Aqueduct and neighbouring two rise locks after draining it for maintenance, giving a unique insight into the inner workings of the Leeds & Liverpool Canal.
During the event on Sunday more than 2,200 visitors of all ages took the opportunity to walk along a drained 50 metre section of the 240 year old aqueduct and ventured 20ft into the bottom of the locks as part of our annual waterway maintenance programme.
Iain Weston, waterway manager for the Canal & River Trust said: “Thousands of visitors pass these structures each year but many might not realise what it takes to keep them in top working order. As a new charity it's important to get support from local communities in order to help us continue to protect what the great industrial pioneers of the 18th century left as their legacy.
“People commented that they've passed the locks and aqueduct so many times before but what was really impressive was to walk down inside them, get a close up look at the construction and learn interesting facts about how my teams carry out this work. Our aims during these open days have been to showcase these incredible heritage structures and to give local communities the chance to experience what they wouldn't get a chance to see otherwise.”
The aqueduct, which spans the River Aire, is undergoing refurbishment works to a section of the embankment to reduce leakage whilst two sets of lock gates are being replaced having been in operation for more than 25 years. New 3.5 tonne lock gates will be hoisted in over the next couple of weeks.