Divers help repair Berkshire canal lock

Divers have taken to the water of the Kennet & Avon Canal in Thatcham as we carry out repairs to Colthrop Lock.

The lock, which is one of the busiest on the river section of the Kennet & Avon Canal, has developed leaks caused by general wear and tear. We have prioritised the work to fix the leaks and ensure the lock remains safe and available to boaters.

The works

With much of the damage below the waterline, instead of draining the canal, a specialist dive team took to the water on Friday 7 June to carry out an inspection and underwater repair work. This helped minimise disruption for boaters, as the navigation didn’t have to be dammed and drained. The works cost around £5,000 and involved divers and our local colleagues who provided repair materials, support and welfare and who took the opportunity to re-anchor a mooring bollard that had come loose.

Following the inspection, the divers repaired leaks in the gate’s planks. They also discovered an issue with the seal at the bottom of the lock, which will require a further plan of work which can be incorporated into the project when the locks gates, being manufactured at the Trust’s workshop, are replaced later this year.

The repairs have made a significant improvement to the lock operation. Local teams will continue to monitor the locks performance and schedule more repairs if required.

The repairs to the lock follow recent dredging and significant bank repairs caused by the recent flooding over the winter period.

Rob Coles, our area operations manager, said: “Colthrop Lock is in daily use by boaters and it was a priority to get it fixed quickly. Instead of draining the canal we’ve been able to send in divers to help make a repair and plan the works required later this year when the lock gates are replaced.

“The Kennet & Avon Canal is over 200 years old – and this section, the River Kennet, was made navigable 300 years ago! – and is still used by boats as it was when it was first built. It’s a remarkable piece of engineering, but time is taking its toll, compounded by the increase in extreme weather caused by climate change. We are doing all we can to meet this challenge, but we need help. We are calling on people to support the Canal & River Trust and help keep canals alive for today’s boaters, the local communities they run through, and for future generations.”

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