Watch as the first boat in 90 years passes through recently restored Georgian lock on Grantham canal
Volunteers rejoiced as the first boat in 90 years passed through a Georgian lock that they rebuilt by hand.
After a combined three year effort from The Canal & River Trust, Grantham Canal Society (GCS) and the Waterway Recovery Group, Lock 14 on the Grantham canal was used by a boat today (Tuesday) for the first time in almost a century.
Members of all three organisations were present, along with the Duke of Rutland, who cut the ribbon to declare the lock open. The Duke assisted the project by providing land near the canal that was essential for the restoration to take place.
Having completed a similar restoration of Lock 15 between 2015 and 2019, volunteers took down the crumbling walls of Lock 14, near Stenwith, brick-by-brick, before laying new foundations and rebuilding the walls by hand.
Across the two restorations of Locks 14 and 15, 441 individual volunteers contributed 9,085 days of time, which is the equivalent of 41 full time working years.
The boat that was first to use the newly restored lock, named ‘The Three Shires', was purpose-built for the Grantham Canal Society in 2010, allowing them to run boat trips on the canal to bring in a regular source of income to help support the ongoing restoration and maintenance of the canal.
The project received an £830,800 grant from the National Lottery Heritage Fund, with the total project spend standing at just under £1.5 million.
Karen Rice, project manager for the Canal & River Trust, said it was "a fantastic feeling” to be opening Lock 14 and called it “a huge milestone”.
“We’re very proud of it. The enthusiasm [of the volunteers] has exceeded any expectations."
With the two projects now complete, the organisations have turned their attention to restoring Lock 13, just round the corner from Lock 14, as well as Lock 12.
Karen added: “[Lock 13] is sat there waiting for restoration. We’re ready to go, it’s just a case of fundraising.
“We’re looking forward to carrying on."
Mike Stone, chair of Grantham Canal Society made a speech at the event. He said: “We’re only standing here thanks to a large number of people and a large number of organisations."
He noted that the project was first conceived back in 2009 and described the 12 years that followed as “very difficult, but very rewarding”.
He thanked South Kesteven District Council for their “fundamentally important" role in "getting stage one off the ground”.
Mike described everyone involved in the project as “priceless people” and added: "on behalf of the Grantham Canal Society, I thank you all for supporting the project.”
Richard Parry, CEO of The Canal & River Trust, also made a speech, calling the completion of the project "a triumph".
“I’m delighted to come here and pay respect to what you’ve achieved," he added.
Richard paid tribute to the "brilliant" volunteers, society members and thanked the Duke of Rutland for the contribution of land next to the canal that was used in the project.
The Duke of Rutland also made a speech, and thanked everyone for coming before reiterating his thanks to everyone mentioned in the two prior speeches.
Across the two projects, over 64,000 bricks have been laid, a 1.2km stretch of the canal was dredged and 800 trees and saplings have been planted.
Two of the volunteers present at the opening were David Lane and Richard Caunt, who have been involved with the project since 2015.
Richard described his feelings as “proud and relieved”, while David said that it was “hard to put into words” how he felt.