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Wanted: Volunteer lock-keepers to keep Grand Union Canal ‘ship shape’

PUBLISHED: 13:16 18 January 2013 | UPDATED: 08:26 21 January 2013

Jason Jones' picture of Lee Navigation submitted to the Canal Trust's photo competition last year

Jason Jones' picture of Lee Navigation submitted to the Canal Trust's photo competition last year

Jason Jones

Waterways officials are looking for volunteer lock-keepers to keep the Regent’s and Grand Union canals ‘ship shape’.

Gordon Joly's picture of Bow Locks submitted to the Canal Trust's photo competition last yearGordon Joly's picture of Bow Locks submitted to the Canal Trust's photo competition last year

The Canal & River Trust which looks after 2,000 miles of waterways across the country needs 50 lock-keepers, including Old Ford Lock next to the Olympic Park on the Lee Navigation and City Road Lock in Shoreditch.

Others in London are needed at Camden Lock, as well as Tottenham, Hanwell, Brentford, Stonebridge, and Cowley.

Lock-keeping has been a part of canal life for 250 years. The role of the modern-day volunteer is helping boaters through the locks as well as maintaining the historic, listed installations, some of which date back to the 18th century.

Volunteers last year collectively put in 4,500 days helping maintain and keep Britain’s canals up to scratch. They assisted 1,500 boats through locks and reduced water loss by encouraging ‘lock sharing’ and making sure gates were closed properly each time.

The Canal Trust looks after 1,600 locks and handles five million passages through them each year. The canals are now used by 32,000 boats annually, more than the height of the industrial revolution when the waterways were the main transport network before the railways.

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Meanwhile, the public is being urged to take extra care using towpaths in the snow and keep to away from the edge. Frozen canals may look picturesque, but the charity trust warns against attempting to walk on the ice or even test its thickness. Snow can also conceal boat mooring rings and ropes which can cause accidents, it points out.


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