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Britain's Deepest Lock Needs You

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Press Release 

4 March 2019


BRITAIN’S DEEPEST LOCK NEEDS YOU!

CANAL CHARITY SEEKS VOLUNTEER LOCK KEEPERS

Could you help hundreds of people from all over the world navigate through Britain’s deepest lock? 
  

National waterways and wellbeing charity, the Canal & River Trust is urgently seeking over a dozen volunteers to take on the iconic role of lock keeper at Britain’s deepest lock.

 

Tuel Lane Lock on the Rochdale Canal in Sowerby Bridge, West Yorkshire is one of the Trust’s most remarkable locks, lowering and raising boats almost 20ft (6m) as they make their journeys over the Pennines. For comparison, a typical double-decker bus is 4.4m.

 

The lock is so deep because it does the work of two.  Built in 1996 during restoration of the Rochdale Canal, it replaced a pair of earlier locks to enable the canal to tunnel under a road built on its original level and provide a more efficient route.

 

Members of the public are not permitted to operate the lock mechanism themselves, due to the depth and proximity to a canal tunnel.  Instead, a Canal & River Trust lock keeper helps crews to negotiate the gates.

 

Britain’s canals are more popular than ever before, with more boats using them than at the height of the Industrial Revolution.  Last year over 1,000 people volunteered to be lock keepers with the Canal & River Trust, but now the network’s deepest lock is on the lookout for people to help out. 

 

Lock keepers have been working on Britain's canals for hundreds of years, although the role has changed over time.  Today, they help to look after the nation’s beautiful waterways, assist boaters on their journeys, welcome visitors, provide information and advice to visitors on the towpath and maintain historic locks.

 

Becca Dent, volunteer coordinator at Canal & River Trust is leading the appeal. She explained: “We’re looking for over a dozen volunteer lock keepers to help bring Britain’s deepest lock to life for everyone who visits.  Often referred to as the ‘face of the canals’, volunteer lock keepers are a vital and iconic role within our charity – it’s a great opportunity for anyone who likes spending time outside and talking to people.”

 

She added: “We value each of our volunteers and appreciate everything they do to help look after our 2,000 miles of historic waterways. In return we do all we can to ensure they have opportunities to learn new skills and meet new people in a friendly and supportive environment. If this sounds of interest we’d love to hear from you.”

Ian Kelshaw is one of two Canal & River Trust volunteer lock keepers at Tule Lane Lock.  He explained: “I didn’t have any connection to canals before I started volunteering at the lock five years ago - but it’s a really interesting role, where no two days are the same.  I’ve learned so much and love being outdoors, it’s great for my wellbeing.  Because it’s Britain’s deepest lock, it captures your imagination and attracts lots of boats and visitors just coming to have a look and see what it’s all about – it’s great!”  

Peter Burton started as a volunteer lock keeper in July 2015 with the Canal & River Trust and now helps operate Tule Lane Lock.  He said: “Having taken early retirement after nearly 40 years in local government I started volunteering with the Trust as part of my plan to keep active and contribute to the local community.  I began helping out at Salterhebble Locks before I joined the team at Tuel Lane lock in April 2017.  I really enjoy working outdoors, assisting boaters - be they first time holiday makers or more experienced canal users - and meeting the many locals and visitors who come to see the deepest canal lock in the UK in action.”

Nigel Stevens, of nearby Shire Cruisers added: “The strikingly beautiful Yorkshire side of the Rochdale Canal offers some of the best scenery in the North and with spring around the corner we’re busy preparing to welcome boaters and holiday makers.  We attract visitors from all over the world and they love meeting the Canal & River Trust’s team of volunteers.  We much appreciate their support and would love to see even more people helping out in the area.”

 

To find out more about volunteering opportunities on your local canal, including Tuel Lane Lock visit: www.canalrivertrust.org.uk

 

ENDS

 

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I find it slightly irritating that I as a boater with around 50 years experience can’t work this lock with my boat in it, whilst some random person perhaps never been boating can do a brief course of training and then be let loose on it without really understanding what is going on. Of course some volunteers do know what they are doing, but the threshold of knowledge and capability is very low and there are plenty who don’t.

  • Greenie 2

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Deepest canal lock in France, 15 metres. There is a deeper one on the (river) Rhone.  Sorry, can't remember the name of the thing, its on the Canal du Marne and Rhine.

IMG_0544.JPG

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Its interesting that boaters are not allowed to work this lock, and that its fenced off to prevent public access. Bath deep lock is almost as deep, within a couple of inches, but is boater operated and fully open to the public. In fact the first time we did Bath some local students had placed a sofa right next to the lock and were having a bit of a drinking party.  Tuel lane does have a short tunnel which is a slight complication, plus two sets of bottom gates, but then Bath goes up to a small pound that drains very easily so there is an increased risk of getting caught on the top cill. Northgate staircase is much more difficult than Tuel lane. 

 

Tuel lane lock is heavily used by hire boats and is only the third lock that the hirers encounter so having a volunteer present makes a lot of sense, but its a bit sad not letting experienced boaters work it themselves

 

Tuel lane is a nice lock, it works well, is attractive and well maintained, its a bit sad that its in the back yard of the shops as it must be a potential visitor attraction.

 

.............Dave

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47 minutes ago, nicknorman said:

I find it slightly irritating that I as a boater with around 50 years experience can’t work this lock with my boat in it, whilst some random person perhaps never been boating can do a brief course of training and then be let loose on it without really understanding what is going on. Of course some volunteers do know what they are doing, but the threshold of knowledge and capability is very low and there are plenty who don’t.

Should something go wrong who is liable the VLK orthe helmsman?

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23 minutes ago, Tuscan said:

Should something go wrong who is liable the VLK orthe helmsman?

Good question!

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34 minutes ago, Tuscan said:

Should something go wrong who is liable the VLK orthe helmsman?

In most locks that would be a good question, but in Tuel lane the boater is not allowed to work the lock so the lock keeper (either full time or VLK) must be responsible, unless he gives instructions to the boater that the boater chooses to ignore?

 

.............Dave

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From the only time we have been through Tuel Lane, (uphill), my understanding was that the concerns are probably more about the effects of it being approached through that tunnel, than just it's actual depth, (or I suppose more accurately the combination of both things).

 

When we went through you were required to stay below the next normal lock below it, whilst CRT staff emptied it, and only then proceed.  There had apparently been very scary incidents with boats trying to be in the tunnel as the full depth of the lock was drawn off.

When we went through I think it was permanent CRT staff manning - I also have concerns about some volunteers.

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We went up Tuel lane just two weeks ago, it was operated by a full time CRT man who was very good. We waited in lock 2 while he emptied Tuel lane as the pound was a bit low and the lock landing above lock 2 looked very uninviting (MacofCygnet of this forum was helping and advising). Its quite a long walk from lock 2 to Tuel lane including crossing a busy road. Rather than walking down I believe the lock keeper used to turn on the tunnel lights when the lock was ready but these are broken so instead a very loud whistle was used to let us know it was safe to proceed.  

 

............Dave

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10 hours ago, Bee said:

Deepest canal lock in France, 15 metres. There is a deeper one on the (river) Rhone.  Sorry, can't remember the name of the thing, its on the Canal du Marne and Rhine.

IMG_0544.JPG

An interesting stretch this. This lock is one side of the canal summit? Called Rechicourt? The other side is an inclined plane at Saint-Louis-Arzviller.

Both the big lock and incline plane replaced a series of original locks and were introduced to cut commercial boat journey times. It's an amazing stretch of canal and a lovely part of the world.

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Rechicourt! that's it. Beautiful place with the old locks still there. That lock fills and empties in much the same time as any other lock, very clever plumbing involved somewhere. It amused me to see the ladders in the lock wall, presumably you can climb out if things go wrong but its a hell of a climb.

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14 hours ago, Bee said:

Deepest canal lock in France, 15 metres. There is a deeper one on the (river) Rhone.  Sorry, can't remember the name of the thing, its on the Canal du Marne and Rhine.

IMG_0544.JPG

HOW deep? I've been through one in France which is over 10 metres (the top lock on the River Baise) and that was QUITE enough, thank you.

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This may be a bit deeper but I wasnt in that one, just looking down

 

Portugal June 05 374small.jpg

I was in this one 

Portugal June 05 173small.jpg

Portugal June 05 150small.jpg

Portugal June 05 149small.jpg

Edited by ditchcrawler

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I love vol lockies. Ensures even more chance of me stopping n the boat driving and not having to pee about with the working class aspect of boating. ?

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Those locks are not nice. Wouldn't look forward to going through those. Especially climbing up the ladder.

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10 minutes ago, mrsmelly said:

I love vol lockies. Ensures even more chance of me stopping n the boat driving and not having to pee about with the working class aspect of boating. ?

Did you lose the butler when you sold the Hudson?

 

  • Haha 1

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