As many local residents know, the Hatton Locks are a flight of 21 locks on the Grand Union Canal, which date back to the start of the Industrial Revolution, and are a timeless example of how our canal heritage has evolved over the years. The flight is nearly 2 miles long and rises 45 metres. Once these locks were a feat of modern engineering that competed with roads and railways as a transport system for industry and trade.
Recently I had the pleasure of visiting the locks with Richard Parry, Chief Executive, and Dean Davies, Direct Services Manager, from the Canal and River Trust (CRT) to see the repair work carried out by the Trust during the winter. Annually, 170 jobs are undertaken nationally on our locks and canals to ensure they continue to function safely. Work included the refitting and repairing of gates, chamber masonry and lock ladder replacement. Richard explained the huge logistical considerations involved, for example for Lock 30 a long-arm crane was needed to lift the gates into place once finished. Also it can be a challenge prioritising the restoration work that is required to keep the canals running.
However, due to the continued investment in the waterways over their 200 years history, the Hatton Locks remain a thriving and treasured resource for leisure and recreation offering opportunities for cycling, fishing, walking and of course narrowboating. The old wharf and maintenance yard have been converted into offices and a heritage skills training centre, with the old stable block which housed canal horses, now a popular café.
The passion and enthusiasm of Richard and Dean was fantastic to see. It was clear that this dedication of those involved in the CRT is invaluable to maintaining the canals as a piece of living history, for which locally, we can be very proud.
If you haven't had the opportunity to visit this stunning example of our local heritage and well worth a visit in 2017!
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