Tuesday, 29 June 2010

BW Press Statement

29 June 2010

Last Tuesday morning, 22 June, a private boat travelling through lock 24 on the Caen Hill Flight alongside a hire boat, struck the lock gate. Unfortunately the damage caused by the impact of the boat caused irreparable damage to the gate. The boats did not suffer any substantial damage, and all crew were safe.

One of the boaters reported the damage to British Waterways on-site. The lock flight was closed and the damaged gate was assessed by British Waterways' engineers on Wednesday 23 June. Notifications were sent to boaters via www.waterscape.com and waterway businesses alerted. The towpath from Lock 22 to Lock 25 will remain closed for the duration of the works.

The gates at Lock 24 were scheduled to be replaced in the winter 2010 maintenance programme, this work has now been moved forward and the British Waterways team is working to remove the old, damaged gates and fit new bespoke gates as soon as possible. At this stage we anticipate the lock flight reopening to the public on Friday 9 July.

Lock gates are all hand made, and this process can take two weeks. Fortunately a pair of lock gates intended for another lock on the flight was being stored in water in the side ponds at the flight. This set of gates is close enough in size and dimensions to the affected lock, and after some alterations will be fitted to lock 24.

Today a fish rescue will be taking place as the water is drained from the lock, safety equipment put in place, and a crane set up on site. The damaged gates will be removed and the new gates fitted. The work is expected to cost approximately £45,000.

British Waterways’ waterway manager, Mark Stephens said: “The British Waterways team are working very hard to minimise disruption to boaters and other waterway users by completing the repair works as quickly and as safely as possible. By moving equipment and staff from other planned works we will be able to complete the job and get boats moving again. We have amended our works at other locations such as the Bath Flight to enable boaters to enjoy other sections of the canal.

“This winter we have undertaken a number of lock gate replacements on the flight and our team will take the experience they gained from these works to enable them to complete the lock gate replacement at lock 24 in a swift and safe manner.

“This year the Kennet & Avon Canal is celebrating its 200th anniversary. Incidents such as this remind everyone that the canal really is a piece of our industrial heritage, almost like a working museum piece, that needs constant care and attention, particularly by those using the locks, travelling over the bridges or even walking along the towpath. I urge everyone to remember how we all need to be careful and think about our safety and that of others when using the waterways.

“The damage was not in any way malicious. In the meantime, thank you for your patience whilst the damage is repaired.”

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