When our canals and rivers were built there was no standard template for lock gates. They were constructed using a variety of techniques and designed to navigate the local landscapes. As a result, no two locks on our canals and rivers are alike, so when we're building new lock gates, each one has to be sized up and built to the exact specifications for each lock.
An average lock gate lasts for about 25 years. As they come to the end of their working life they will get a visit from our carpenters, who measure it up, ready to be rebuilt back at the workshop. Usually it takes a couple of carpenters two weeks to build a pair of lock gates, but for the biggest gates it can take over a month.
Sustainably grown oak
Each lock gate is still hand-made by our skilled carpenters in the traditional way. We use green, sustainably grown oak. Steel brackets are fitted to strengthen the joints of the gate to make sure it lasts.
Many of the cast iron fittings, for example the working paddle gear, are recycled and then reused on the new gates. Other bespoke metalwork such as hoops and collars are also made at our workshops.
The heavy design and construction is needed so that the gate holds up to the pressure of the canal water and can take the continual wear and tear from boats that pass through the lock.