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'Derelict' Grantham Canal lock welcomes first boat in 90 years

Crowds gathered to watch a boat pass through a restored lock on Grantham Canal for the first time in more than 90 years.

The Canal and River Trust, Grantham Canal Society (GCS) and the Waterway Recovery Group have been working together over the past three years to painstakingly restore lock 15 near Woolsthorpe-by-Belvoir, after it fell into dereliction in the 1920s.

It’s all part of a project, which was awarded a £830,500 grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, to bring locks 14 and 15 back into use.

Lock 15 on Grantham Canal welcomed its first boat in 90 years on Friday. (16893241)
Lock 15 on Grantham Canal welcomed its first boat in 90 years on Friday. (16893241)

Since summer 2015, the volunteers have been dismantling Lock 15 after its walls moved and crumbled allowing the whole structure to lean inwards. The volunteers have laid new foundations, completely rebuilt the lock walls, created new lock moorings and lifted in new oak lock gates.

To celebrate the milestone, the GCS trip boat ‘Three Shires’ carried representatives of the various groups that have been involved in the scheme through the lock at the event on Friday.

Phil Mulligan, regional director for the Canal and River Trust, said: “This is such an exciting time for the Grantham Canal. The volunteers’ dedication and enthusiasm for this project has been astounding and it’s been a real Herculean effort from all involved. The whole project has been a real inspiration.”

Richard Parry, chief executive of the trust, added: “This is a very proud moment. Today is all about volunteers and the work that they have done. Volunteers have grown in numbers and confidence throughout the project.”

Volunteers work on lock 15 of Grantham Canal.(17066143)
Volunteers work on lock 15 of Grantham Canal.(17066143)

In addition to the funding from the National Lottery fund, the project has also received support from WREN, the Donald Forrester Trust, the family of Alan Applewhite and Michael Worth on behalf of the Waynflete Charitable Trust.

David Lyneham Brown, chief executive officer of the GCS, praised the team effort involved in the restoration work.

He said: “Together we’ve achieved the biggest single restoration project yet undertaken on the 33 miles of the Grantham Canal.”

Grantham Canal chairman, Mike Stone added: “The volunteers are priceless. We have turned all of our plans and ideas into infrastructure that will last for 100 years and longer.

“We would also like to thank the local community who have helped raise £100,000 over the last five years.”

Jonathan Platt, head of Investment, England, Midlands and East, The National Lottery Heritage Fund, hopes that the restoration will interest in the canal will increase as a result of the project.

He added: “We’re delighted that thanks to National Lottery players this integral part of the canal has been brought back into use along with a huge amount of volunteer effort. We hope the project gives the local community a real sense of ownership of this fascinating aspect of their local history.”

Volunteers work on lock 15 of Grantham Canal.(17066145)
Volunteers work on lock 15 of Grantham Canal.(17066145)

While lock 15 welcomed its first boat, restoration efforts are continuing at nearby lock 14. Here volunteers have laid new foundations and rebuilt the lock walls. Work will continue over the winter before new lock gates are lifted into position next summer.

The canal was opened in 1797 as a cheap way of transporting coal from Nottingham to Grantham. It proved prosperous until the opening of the Grantham to Nottingham railway in 1850. Unable to compete with the railway the canal eventually closed to boats in 1929.

By the 1960s most of the locks on the canal were derelict and their lock gates replaced with concrete weirs to control the water levels.

For more information, visit: www.granthamcanal.org or for details on how to get involved in the restoration contact volunteer@granthamcanal.org.

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