When essential work was proposed at the derelict, Cropwell lock 11 on the Grantham Canal, several parts were in serious danger of collapse. This project provided the perfect opportunity for our operatives to put into practice their conservation skills and pass this onto new colleagues.
Small scale works such as this have been done before, to prevent collapse. This time one of the worst sections was taken on. Cropwell Lock 11 provided a perfect training ground for newer members of our team to develop specialist skills, from those more experienced in the team. Audrey O’Connor, a colleague of mine in the Heritage team was covering the East Midlands area when the work was planned. Audrey took the opportunity to refresh her practical heritage skills.
Detailed plans had been produced, but when work begun it was clear large parts of the chamber wall weren’t safe to deal with, the plans only included minor limited repairs, so the method had to be changed.
In the end, considerable sections of failed walling were pulled down and rebuilt to the highest possible conservation practice, excellent lime mortar work, turning and reusing as many bricks as possible and sourcing an excellent reclaimed brick to finish the job. Copings were numbered before removal and unsafe sections taken down in a planned and controlled way to minimise risk and loss of original walling.
Once the walls where thoroughly repaired, the copings were replaced in the correct order ensuring rope marks and the tell marks of a busy life remained to interpret the structure in the future.
At the top gates, the cill was completely rebuilt, and the lock floor was cleared of all debris, swept and cleaned and the result is impressive.
Now completed, one of the most derelict locks on the Grantham canal has straight and reassuring chambers walls, a good cill, all copings are in place and the ground paddle culverts have been repaired so that only minimal work to the masonry is required to bring them back into use.
On taking the job back from Audrey I couldn’t be prouder of the standard of work completed by the East Midlands South team, guided by Audrey to leave a really impressive finish. It's true - plenty more work will be needed before gates could be hung, but it suddenly seems well within reach, so a huge congratulations to the team – I think one of the best jobs I’ve seen in my seven years working with the Canal & River Trust and its predecessor British Waterways.
Tom Woodcock, East Midlands Heritage Advisor
The work carried out by the heritage team is extremely varied, covering all sorts of structures and a wide variety of projects. Not one week is the same and we keep learning all the time, meeting some fascinating people and visiting stunning places along the way. We are hoping that through our blogs we can share some of our passion for the amazing industrial heritage of the inland waterways.See more blogs from this author