Lock Gates Installed!

Fifteen volunteers spent the last weekend in September fitting lock gates at the Buckingham Canal Nature Reserve at Hyde Lane near Buckingham. The gates were donated by Canal & River Trust following their replacement on the Northampton Arm earlier in 2012.  This was the first weekend-long work party organised by the Society, although we have run weekend work parties in conjunction with members of the Waterway Recovery Group in the past. This weekend work party was made up of experienced volunteers and some newcomers, all ages working together.

Terry Cavender, our Projects and Partnerships Manager said, “We are grateful to all of our volunteers who contributed more than 250 hours of work during the weekend. In addition we thank Canal & River Trust for donating the gates.  These recycled gates are not operational but their presence will help to preserve the integrity of this heritage structure. We are delighted that we have now been able to recreate the look and feel of the canal lock as it would have been in its heyday more than 100 years ago.”

The lock gates at Hyde Lane Nature Reserve following the weekend work party to install them.

A grant from WREN (Waste Recycling Environmental Ltd) enabled the Society to restore the integrity of the structure in 2008 and on-going fund-raising, including our annual Cosgrove Festival, enabled the Society to take this recent significant step. The volunteers were grateful for the use of equipment from Waterways Recovery Group (WRG).   In addition a 22 tonne excavator was needed to carry out the heavy lifting and this was supervised by one of the WRG instructors, Dave Wedd, who was of invaluable help.

Initial plans to take the excavator along the canal bed were thwarted by the wet weather and after a lot of reversing and crawling out of the mud, we went for plan B which was to take the gates around and through the hedge. This took slightly longer than we would have liked but all in all the weekend achieved the primary objective safely, on time and to budget. We did not get time to train people on the excavator as we would have liked but more chances for this will hopefully be forthcoming over the next few months as other projects progress.

Further work is now being planned for 2013 on the lock to complete the removal of mud from the chamber and to repoint the lower walls as necessary.  Volunteers will continue the general maintenance of the nature reserve to enhance hedge and water habitats. Hyde Lane Lock is now a significant point of interest on the Ouse Valley Way, which runs along the towpath by the lock.