A £830,500 grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF) is funding a volunteer-led project to restore Grantham Canal’s series of historic locks.
The five year project, being managed by the Canal and River Trust and Grantham Canal Society (GCS), will see locks 14 and 15 near Woolsthorpe brought back to their former glory, with engineers also beginning initial investigations into the restoration of a further two - locks 12 and 13.
As well as the physical works the project will aim 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.
Lucie Hoelmer, enterprise manager for the Canal and River Trust, said: “This is a really exciting period in the long history of the beautiful Grantham Canal and we’re delighted that the Heritage Lottery Fund is supporting the plans.
“The most exciting aspect of the project is that the works will be carried out entirely by volunteers supported by professionals from the Trust. It’s a great example of local people and those who care about the nation’s canals getting out there and working together to restore and protect this precious heritage. Importantly, it will also see them gaining the transferable skills needed to keep it going and that bodes really well for the future of the canal.”
The two locks were designed by renowned engineer William Jessop and many components and design features are largely intact from their original construction over 200 years ago. Sadly, since the canal was closed to boats in 1929, the locks have become overgrown and in some places collapsed.
Now volunteers from the GCS, assisted by the Waterway Recovery Group and Grantham College, will be helping to reverse the decline by rebuilding collapsed lock walls, clearing out earth and debris from the lock chambers, installing new wooden gates and refilling with water.
A tailored training programme will also be available offering the volunteers the chance to gain important heritage skills and restoration know-how which they can use on other sections of the canal.
Mike Stone, chairman of the Grantham Canal Society, said: “This is a landmark award demonstrating the close cooperation between the Trust and a voluntary society. It confirms the faith that many local stakeholders have had in the future of the Grantham Canal. This new project offers a real opportunity for people young and old to join an enthusiastic team where they can learn new and very marketable skills. It is an ideal volunteering opportunity to restore this forgotten gem in the Vale of Belvoir.”
Vanessa Harbar, Head of HLF East Midlands, said: “People have a deep affection for the country’s canals both as settings seeped in history and relaxing places to spend time. What excited HLF most about this project is that as well as ensuring these two locks are restored and reopened for the first time in 80 years, volunteers will also be trained in the skills needed to continue to restore more of the canal in future.”