Local people are set to help bring one of the nation’s most cherished canals back to life after a volunteer-led project to restore a series of historic canal locks on the Grantham Canal received a £830,500 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF).
The five year project will see locks 14 and 15 near Woolsthorpe brought back into working use for the first time in around 80 years as well as training volunteers in valuable conservation skills and laying the groundwork for the restoration of a further two locks (numbered 12 and 13).
As well as the physical works the project will also aim to raise awareness of the canal’s built and natural heritage and encourage more people to explore it through festivals, walking trails, archaeological activities, on-site information and online resources.
The works will be a major milestone in the ongoing efforts to restore the canal whilst also helping to care for its important ecology by improving conditions for aquatic species to thrive.
The two locks were designed by renowned engineer William Jessop and many components and design features are largely intact from their original construction over 200 years ago. Sadly, since the canal was closed to boats in 1929, the locks have become overgrown and in some places collapsed. Now volunteers will be helping to reverse the decline by rebuilding collapsed lock walls, clearing out earth and debris from the lock chambers, installing new wooden gates and refilling with water.
The restoration works will be carried out by volunteers from the GCS assisted by the Waterway Recovery Group and Grantham College. A tailored training programme will also be available offering the volunteers the chance to gain important heritage skills and restoration know-how which they can use on other sections of the canal.
Mike Stone, chairman of the Grantham Canal Society said: “This is a landmark award demonstrating the close cooperation between the Trust and a voluntary society. It confirms the faith that many local stakeholders have had in the future of the Grantham Canal. This new project offers a real opportunity for people young and old to join an enthusiastic team where they can learn new and very marketable skills. It is an ideal volunteering opportunity to restore this forgotten gem in the Vale of Belvoir.”
Vanessa Harbar, Head of HLF East Midlands adds: “People have a deep affection for the country’s canals both as settings seeped in history and relaxing places to spend time. What excited HLF most about this project is that as well as ensuring these two locks are restored and reopened for the first time in 80 years, volunteers will also be trained in the skills needed to continue to restore more of the canal in future.”