Sunday, 30 November 2008

After quite a while in the planning the refurbishment of Bottom Lock was finally finished in early November.

Much research was carried out by Dave Pullen to try and establish how the lock was dammed off when the lock was originally restored in the late 1980's as nobody could remember how it was done. All we had to go on were a few black and white photographs so any details were, at best, sketchy.

The contract for piling off the lock was awarded to Black Sluice Drainage Board but when they started to put the piles into position they hit an obstruction. This resulted in twice as many piles being put further away from the lock at double the cost.

Before the new gates could be installed Trust volunteers had quite a bit of work to do. This included repairs to the brickwork on the lower wingwalls and also brickwork repairs in the lower gate recesses. Under normal circumstances neither places are easy to access. When we were carrying out the repairs we were careful to leave a few holes in the wingwalls for nesting Grey Wagtails as it had been established that the area was one of the few sites in the county that they nest.

As the lock was going to be drained for a while it was also decided, as a safety measure, to take the opportunity to fit lock ladders.

The new gates that had been manufactured for us by Hargreaves of Halifax arrived on site on 5th November and were quickly fitted into place by Nigel Lord and his team. Gates were quickly followed by the balance beams and the paddle gear. The next couple of days were taken up with final adjustments to make the gates fit correctly.

There were, however, a few diversions during the work. One particular one comprised an unscheduled fish rescue. During the initial draining of the lock Dave Pullen and John Line made sure that all the fish had been rescued. Later on though the water level rose for a short while and a Pike managed to make his way into the lock. We didn't have a net so we managed to encourage the Pike into a large plastic bucket which we hauled up the lock wall and then released it above the lock.

With a view to future maintenance of the lock Dave Pullen decided that while the lock was drained we should fit grooves in the lock entrance for stop planks. This meant that we also had to fit a beam into the lock apron. On the Sunday a small select team of volunteers lowered a concrete mixer into the lock and proceeded to mix about 2 tons of concrete to provide a haunch either side of the beam.

The water levels were a bit changeable and although Dave Pullen had intended to raise the top gate and 'christen' the new gates was beaten to it by the river. In fact the team from Hargreaves only just manage to finish and get their gear out of the lock before the river came up and flooded the lock.

Many thanks to Dave Pullen for all his hard work organising the program of works and also to Norman Osborne for his efforts transporting materials and equipment.

Dave Pullen

Norman Osborne