News article created on 8 January 2018

Volunteer lock keepers sought across Yorkshire

We're calling on people across Yorkshire to support the region’s canals by becoming a volunteer lock keeper.

Mike Grout, volunteer lock keeper Aire & Calder Navigation

An iconic role, volunteer lock keepers act as ‘the face of the waterway’, not only assisting boaters through the locks but also engaging with people using the towpaths. They may also take part in other volunteering activities which help the smooth running of the UK’s canals and rivers.

With some 1,580 locks nationwide, 3.8 million ‘lockings’ (passages through locks) each year, and over 32,000 boats using the canals, it’s a busy job and an integral part of the visitor experience.

Mike Grout, 67, has been a volunteer lock keeper with us since 2015. He says there are many enjoyable aspects to the role and encourages people to get involved.

"It’s a really interesting job – operating something that was built back in the Georgian era is particularly special and we also do other things to look after the canals, like litter picking, painting and gardening," he said.

"I get to meet lots of interesting people – not just boaters but the walkers and cyclists on the towpath too. I work within a team of three volunteer lock keepers and we always have a great time – I’ve made new friends whilst being able to give something back to the community and being outside in the fresh air."

We're seeking volunteer lock keepers across West and South Yorkshire for locks on the Calder & Hebble, Aire & Calder and the Sheffield & South Yorkshire Navigations in:

  • Brighouse
  • Castleford
  • Ferrybridge
  • Fishponds
  • Leeds/Knostrop
  • Aldwarke
  • Mexbrough Top/Low
  • Thorne
  • Doncaster

Becca Dent, our volunteering development coordinator commented: "Lock keepers are one of the oldest traditions of the waterways so we need enthusiastic, friendly people to keep it alive. It’s the ideal role for anyone who wants to work outdoors and do something hands-on, and also a great way to meet new people, learn new skills and give something back to your community.

"Our Leeds Open Weekend on 3rd and 4th of February, where we’re opening up a drained canal lock that’s undergoing repairs, will be a great way for anyone interested to find out more and meet some of our volunteer lock keepers in action."

Leeds Open Weekend details can be found at: Leeds Open Weekend (Aire & Calder Navigation)

Further information on volunteer lock keeper opportunities with us are available through the link below. Anyone over 18 and able to give a day a week is welcome to apply. The deadline is early February, with the role expected to commence in April, following training and induction sessions.