The public are invited to delve behind-the-scenes of vital repair and restoration works at Audlem’s historic flight of 15 locks on the Shropshire Union Canal in Cheshire.
On Saturday 21st January, visitors will be given the rare opportunity to climb down inside the drained Audlem Lock 13 and walk along the bottom of the chamber. Expert engineers and volunteers will be on hand to explain the works to members of the public and give an insight into the skills and methods used to carry out the repair work. The free event will be open from 10am to 3pm.
The open day is part of a six-week work programme which will involve replacing the timber top lock gate as well as making repairs to the brickwork which is usually hidden below the waterline. A temporary dam will be installed so that experts can inspect the full length of the lock approach and visitors can see the workings of the lock.
Attending the open day will be the Shropshire Union Canal Society who can talk about other restoration work being undertaken on the Montgomery Canal. There are a number of places in the village nearby for refreshments.
Audlem locks’ planned repairs will cost £96,000 and are part of a £43 million restoration and repair programme taking place this winter on canals and rivers across England and Wales. The 15 locks at Audlem take the water level down from the Shropshire heights to the Cheshire Plain, some 93ft (30 metres).
During the period up to 1920 the canal was the scene of great commercial activity. Horse drawn fly boats worked day and night between Birmingham, Audlem and Ellesmere Port transporting perishable dairy goods and coal, timber, grain and limestone.
Ged King, Canal & River Trust Regional Construction manager, says: “We’re delighted to be able to open the construction site for the day to invite people along to see first-hand the repair work that we have been doing. It is an important part of looking after our canal heritage. Lock 13 needs a lot of brickwork and stone repairs so it will be really interesting for the public to see how we tackle these essential works.”