A team of volunteers from the Grantham Canal Society (GCS) – working with the Canal and River Trust – is getting ready to pour more than 100 tonnes of concrete to create new foundations for lock 15.
The Grantham Canal lock, which was designed and built by renowned canal engineer William Jessop over two centuries ago, is being completely rebuilt after falling into near dereliction.
It’s all part of a project, which has been awarded a £830,500 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), to bring locks 14 and 15 near Stenwith back into use.
Since early 2015, volunteers have been painstakingly taking the lock apart, piece by piece, after the lock walls moved and crumbled allowing the whole structure to lean inwards. The volunteers have been carefully cleaning and storing the bricks so that they can be reused later in the project.
GCS volunteers are now getting ready to pump concrete into the foundations, which will make the lock structure much stronger, before facing the walls in traditional bricks to ensure an authentic look.
Karen Rice, project manager for the Canal and River Trust, said: “This is a real milestone in the efforts to restore this historic lock and will help to ensure that the lock stands proudly for another 200 years.
“The GCS volunteers have done a magnificent job, carefully dismantling the lock so that we can begin the important job of rebuilding it. Once the foundations are in place then the focus will be on rebuilding the walls and we’re really keen to hear from local bricklayers who would like to get involved and give some of their time.
“It’s a great opportunity to follow in the footsteps of William Jessop and the fruits of your labour will be on show for centuries to come.”
GCS chairman Mike Stone added: “This is a very positive move in the restoration of the canal as it provides an opportunity to demonstrate the skills of volunteers. The GCS voluntary teams have been working every week since last August and they deserve praise for the tasks they have undertaken, sometimes in difficult conditions, and for their willingness to be trained to learn new skills.
“This is the first lock on a waterway run by the Canal and River Trust to be restored using volunteer labour and it has already demonstrated that partnership working can deliver benefits to both of the organisations involved. Cost minimisation and development of heritage training skills were key deliverables for the grant awarded by HLF and this project is successfully achieving both of them.”
The five-year project is being led by volunteers and will see the two locks brought back into working use for the first time in around 80 years. It will also involve training volunteers in valuable conservation skills and laying the groundwork for the restoration of a further two locks (numbered 12 and 13).
The project has also received support from WREN, Donald Forrester Trust, the family of Alan Applewhite, and Michael Worth on behalf of the Waynflete Charitable Trust. Newark Concrete is supplying the ready-mix concrete after being approached by staff at Tarmac’s Barnstone Works.
As well as the physical works the aim of the project is also to raise awareness of the canal’s built and natural heritage and encourage more people to explore it through festivals, walking trails, archaeological activities, on-site information and online resources.
For more information on the Grantham Canal go to www.granthamcanal.org or for more details on how to get involved in the restoration contact firstname.lastname@example.org