The Canal & River Trust (CRT) is inviting the public to step down into the drained Foxton Locks for a chance to see what it takes to keep the 200-year-old famous flight of locks working smoothly.
Over the next two months CRT is completing important works at Foxton, the longest and steepest ‘staircase’ of locks in the UK, including replacing a number of giant oak lock gates. The programme of works will see new lock gates lifted into seven of the site’s ten locks as well as repairs to historic brickwork and other parts of the lock structures.
Open day events
With support from players of People’s Postcode Lottery, CRT is opening up the works to the public with free open days taking place over the next four weekends. Giving visitors the rare opportunity to walk on the bottom of a drained lock and get a close-up look at the giant lock gates and historic stonework, the weekends will give people a new perspective on their local canal heritage.
Activities are taking place each Saturday and Sunday from 15th February through to 8th March. All activities are free however some have limited spaces so booking is advised. Visitors are advised to wear warm clothing and sturdy footwear. Parking is limited so please car share where possible.
As well as the opportunity to walk down into a lock, each weekend will include an activity giving visitors the chance to take part in photography workshops, guided walks, fishing taster sessions, traditional canal painting and a Lego big build. Visitors are advised to check the Trust’s website for details of the activities taking place each weekend.
Somthing you will have never seen before
Phil Mulligan, director for the Trust in the East Midlands, said: “People may have visited Foxton Locks many times before but they’ve probably never seen it quite like this, there’s nothing quite like descending down into one of the famous locks. It’s fascinating looking up at the giant oak lock gates and in some places you can even see the mason’s marks in the stonework from when the locks were built over 200 years ago.
“By opening up our work to the public we want to celebrate the hugely impressive feats of engineering created by previous generations, as well as showcase the care and craftsmanship that goes into maintaining them today.
“The events promise to be a real experience but they will also give visitors the chance to have a go at a variety of fun and creative activities whether that’s traditional canal painting or getting involved in our Lego big build. Come along and enjoy some fresh air and quality family time at this amazing engineering marvel.”
Repairs and restoration
The works are part of a six-month-long national programme of repairs to England and Wales’ waterways, where the charity is investing £43.6m repairing and restoring waterways across England & Wales this winter.
Before the locks were drained to allow the work to take place, a specialist ‘fish rescue’ took place to temporarily rehome thousands of fish in the sections of canal either side of Foxton.