Cheshire Locks News – 2022

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2022 Working Parties
(Note that clicking on a small picture will show that picture larger)
(All photos © John & Sandra Lawson, unless otherwise shown)

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Thursday 21st January – Having completed all tasks on Locks 44 and 45, we moved down the canal at Red Bull to Lock 46 for our first Work Party of 2022. The weather in January is always unpredictable, with a cold but dry day forecast and so it proved. Our dedicated group of eight enthusiastic volunteers set to work preparing the lock, scraping, wire brushing and sanding all the wooden and metal surfaces. The temperature was below the minimum required for the application of any paint, but the day was very well spent, and all the effort put in ensured that on our next visit, the lock will be ready for painting.

A frosty start Sunny later

Thursday 17th February – Cancelled by CRT because they couldn’t provide lifejackets.

Thursday 17th March – Six volunteers assembled at Lock 46 (Townfield) to commence painting the metalwork and wooden gates prepared by the team in January. The weather was dry and the temperature above the minimum required for the paint. We focused on the metal surfaces in the main as the balance beams were drying out after some overnight rain, so the bridge rails were completed along with the top gate handrails. Lock ladders and metal strapping posts also. By lunchtime, the beam ends had dried sufficiently to apply a coat of white paint and lock numbers were applied to the bottom gate towpath side. Wooden strapping posts also received a coat of white paint. Another good day’s work by our volunteers.

Lock 46 before Lock 46 after

Thursday 21st April – Glorious weather for painting. We were leaderless today as John Lawson had to stay away because he tested positive for Covid-19 after a big family gathering. Nevertheless, with the help of Jane from CRT, we managed to complete all the outstanding work on Lock 46. The numbers were painted the following week by John (after a full recovery) to finish the sequence of locks that have occupied our efforts over the past year. 

Lock 46 Bottom Gates (© John Brighouse) Lock 46 Top Gates (© John Brighouse)
Bottom Gate numbers Top Gate number

Thursday 19th May – Another great day for painting, as we started work on Lock 60. This lock (and Lock 59, which we will do next) are the last 2 pairs of locks which we have never worked on.

The 8 volunteers rubbed down and painted lots of woodwork, including the fence by the bridge, as well as lots of balance beams.

At lunchtime our Chairman Roger Evans presented the Wedgwood Trophy award to John Lawson, our work-party leader. This trophy is awarded to the person who has done the most to further the cause of the Trent and Mersey Canal Society during the previous year. 

Fence and Gate (from track) Fence and Gate (from lock-side)
Railings painted Wedgwood Trophy presentation
(© Margaret English)

Thursday 16th June – On the warmest day of the year so far, 4 volunteers assembled at Lock 60 to continue the excellent work completed by the Work Party the previous month. We were reduced in numbers due to holiday and other commitments on a day when the canal was very busy with boat traffic, heading in the main towards Middlewich for the Folk and Boat Festival.

We decided that 2 volunteers would prepare and paint the previously untouched bywash fence, and the remaining 2 would focus on paddle gear, rails and balance beams which inevitably also meant much opening and closing paddles and gates for the boats passing through the single lock chamber in use. Despite all this and the increasing heat, much was achieved. In addition, we had the first visit of the year of the CRT grass cutting contractors, who, to be fair, worked alongside us, prioritising areas of the very long grass at our request to give us some clearance in the areas where we would be working.

All round, a good day and a special thank you to Laura from the adjacent stables who very kindly supplied us with mugs of tea.

Bywash Fence – just started Bywash Fence complete (© Jane Hargreaves)

Thursday 21st July – Another very warm day at Lock 60 where our six volunteers set about completing the remaining preparation and painting work on Lock 60. The waterway was again very busy and with only the offside lock available (as the towpath-side lock was still closed awaiting repair because the walls are moving inwards) we made sure that members of our group helped boaters through.

The continuing dry weather ensured that we completed painting all the strapping and mooring posts, paddle gear, balance beams, bridge rails, metal fittings on the gates and an extra coat on the bywash fence. Finally, the lock number was painted on the bottom gates and the towpath side top gate. The team did an excellent job as you will note from the photos.

The day ended with news that the Trent and Mersey was closing that afternoon due to an acute shortage of water, and we were to deny passage through the lock, requesting and assisting boaters to moor in the pound between Locks 60 and 59, which we did. Several boats on the way down from Rode Heath were reported stranded on the mud or unable to negotiate the locks.

As we finished Lock 60 today, next month we will start on Lock 59 (the last pair of locks that we have never worked on)!

Offside Lock finished Towpath-side Lock

and both locks from the towpath:

Thursday 18th August – Five volunteers enjoyed good weather except for a few minutes light rain at lunchtime as we started work on locks 59. We scraped and prepared the paddle gears at the top of the locks and rails on the top gates and had time to paint them. Some vegetation clearance around the lock and a litter pick to finish. Unfortunately, Bob had to leave us as he tripped over a tree root on the towpath and ended up in A &E with a fractured bone in his elbow. According to later reports, he should hopefully be OK in a couple of months!

Lock 59 Top Paddle Gear Lock 59 Top Gate Rails

Thursday 15th September – Another small group (of only 4 people this time) continued work on locks 59. We managed to paint all the white woodwork (6 balance beam ends and 5 bollard tops) twice, and both top gates were also painted black. Finally, a lock-side seat was spruced up in brown, and more railings were rubbed down.

Thursday 20th October – Cancelled because of bad weather.

Thursday 17th November – Cancelled because of a very bad weather forecast (heavy rain all day with a risk of flooding).

See Diary for news of next planned working party

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