The charity making life better by water

We've completed a £2 million project on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal

Leeds & Liverpool Canal Society’s heritage boat ‘Kennet’ was warmly welcomed as the first boat through the newly repaired Grade II listed Eshton Road Lock on 25 May, following our £2 million restoration project.

The only surviving Leeds & Liverpool Canal short boat accessible to the public (not converted for private use) was assisted through the lock by volunteer lock keepers and our staff.

What's been happening?

Over the last eight months we've been working with specialist stonemasonry contractors Lyons on a painstaking restoration project at the 200-year-old structure to prevent the lock's wall from collapsing.

The works also revealed 18th century engineering expertise with the discovery of five huge buttresses behind the lock chamber. These ‘counterforts' were designed by Georgian engineers during the late 18th century to support the weight of the water in the canal.

The towpath and navigation were closed to the public in November following the sighting of a significant bulge in the historic wall. Repairs to the Grade II Listed Eshton Road Lock on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal near Gargrave were delayed following setbacks and damage caused by last month's Storm Eunice.

Obstacles to overcome

Graham Ramsden, our senior project manager, has been overseeing the repair programme. He explained: “Working with historic structures built over 200 years ago is a challenge and we've certainly had a few obstacles to overcome on this site. We've got a couple more weeks until the scaffolding and final touches are finished, but it's really rewarding to see the lock reopen and in use once again.”

He added: “Eshton Road Lock is situated in one of the most picturesque spots along the Leeds & Liverpool Canal, with stunning views of the Yorkshire Dales. We know how popular this spot is for canal users who have been eager to enjoy this stretch once more, so we thank everyone for their patience during this time and I know our team are looking forward to welcoming, walkers and cyclists enjoying time by water once again.”

Looking after our heritage

Ruth Garratt, our heritage advisor, added: “We rarely get the chance to examine how Georgian engineers built their canals. By having the opportunity to monitor the repair works we've been able to take photos, make drawings and compile evidence and insights into how one of the country's most important waterways was constructed in the late 18th century. I think it's important for people to know how invested we are in looking after our canals which are a living, working heritage.”

Our 10th anniversary

We're celebrating our 10th anniversary in 2022 and are asking people to #ActNowForCanals and help to support their local waterway, from volunteering projects, citizen science surveys, to raising funds or clearing up litter. Every small action can make a huge difference.

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Last Edited: 06 June 2022

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