Volunteer lock keeper - Gill Anlezark

Each year we ask the public to volunteer for one of the most iconic roles on the waterways - lock keeping. Gill Anlezark talks us through the ups and downs of life as a volunteer lock keeper.

Gill Anlezark, volunteer lock keeper, leaning on lock beam holding spade Gill Anlezark, volunteer lock keeper
"I couldn't think of a better place to go to work!" Gill Anlezark

Gill Anlezark has helped hundreds of boaters along the beautiful Kennet & Avon Canal.

How did you first become interested in the canals/boating?  

As a cyclist I used the towpaths locally and elsewhere on the network, and then bought a share in a narrowboat in 2006

Are you a regular boater?

Yes, we own a 55ft narrowboat on the Kennet & Avon Canal and we also still own the share which gives us access to other canals.  It's on the Trent & Mersey at the moment.

How did you hear about the volunteer lock keeper scheme?

Through the website and volunteering for towpath tidying on the Kennet & Avon.

What interested you about it?  

I couldn't think of a better place to go to work than Caen Hill.  It was a chance to help boaters and other visitors to enjoy their time at the locks,and help to make sure that the locks were operated well.

Talk us through a typical day  

We always work in pairs for safety reasons and usually start about 9am.  If the full-time lock keepers Bob and Alan are about, we ask them if there are any tasks they would prefer us to do and they usually say 'find some boats to come up!'

 If all the boats are going down, controlling the water levels becomes a problem at the top of the flight.  We then help any boats needing a hand either up or down, especially if they are single-handing.  Sometimes we help with lock inspections, opening and shutting paddles and gates so they can be checked by the Trust staff. The day passes very quickly.

What did you most enjoy about being a volunteer lock keeper?  

Meeting all the visitors, boaters and walkers. Being out in the fresh air. Helping to operate the locks.

What did you least enjoy?  

Getting very wet in the rain!

Did you get anything unexpected out of the experience?

How appreciative some boaters are to have an extra pair of hands or two.

Would you do it again?

Yes, definitely!

What was your favourite moment?

Every time I arrive in the morning and see the flight, winter or summer and catching a glimpse of the local kingfisher.

Last date edited: 15 March 2016