Sometimes the support we get from the public is overwhelming…
As you may know we have been digging in the area of the Sandiacre bottom lock to determine where it is and how to restore it. We found the top of the coping stones about a foot below the surface. Part of the challenge was to identify where the drain installed by Severn Trent went and how much damage to the walls had been done. We traced the wall up to the indent to take a lock gate and then no more. This means that we think they have removed a chunk of the end of a wall and no doubt gone through the opposite wing wall. We also traced it back to the upstream end to discover some more damage towards the back of the lock where we suspect another ST trench was dug. Subsequent investigation during the spoil sampling suggested that the cill had been “moved” – it certainly wasn’t where we expected it.
We also found the other wall to the east of the line and realised that the side wall of the lock was actually under the hedge of a neighbouring property. This obviously presented a challenge to restoration. I know there are short and cranked beams, but nothing that would fit in our gap. During the dig we had been delighted with the interest and support of the passing public. There’s something about having a spade in your hand to generate interest well above the more normal grass cutting machinery. We had long chats to many people who were delighted we were trying to bring it back and encouraged us to get on with it!
It also gave us a chance to get to know the residents around the lock, who were all excited by the prospect of a lock being reinstated. We ended with a few new members, but were amazed when we discussed the problem with lack of land at the lock side.
We had suspected that over the years a few residents had encroached onto the canal line and when we approached Dave to explain how the lack of space would prevent the restoration as his hedge was on top of the canal he readily agreed that his father had “borrowed” a bit of land and offered to give it back so we could proceed. It was only fitting that we provided a brand new fence and we organised our working parties to erect it for him and then scrubbed out the old hedge. There’s still a bit of tidying up to complete, but as the picture shows we can now plan the lock restoration with a lot more confidence and space. Thanks Dave – you’ve been very, very helpful.