Banbury Lock bares all as 100s enjoy open weekend

Banbury Lock open to the public whilst work is carried out on replacing new gates. Pictured, Team Leader Brendan Kavenagh, Craft Operator Rob Ingham and Apprentice Carpenter Megan Gilkes NNL-171118-201554009
Banbury Lock open to the public whilst work is carried out on replacing new gates. Pictured, Team Leader Brendan Kavenagh, Craft Operator Rob Ingham and Apprentice Carpenter Megan Gilkes NNL-171118-201554009

Hundreds of people took the chance to walk around the bottom of Banbury Lock as refurbishments meant it could be opened to the public.

Experts from the Canal and River Trust drained the lock to carry out essential works and held an open weekend on November 18 and 19.

Items found at the bottom of Banbury Lock were on show at the open weekend. Photo by Jane Russell NNL-171124-115357001

Items found at the bottom of Banbury Lock were on show at the open weekend. Photo by Jane Russell NNL-171124-115357001

Nearly 1,300 people spoke the charity’s experts about the lock gates, which are being replaced as part of the works, and got the rare chance to see the original 239-year-old brickwork.

South east waterway manager at the trust Tav Kazmi said: “It’s not very often that we get the chance to see our historic locks drained of water. The open weekend gave us the opportunity to meet with local people and share some of our hidden history. It was a really enjoyable weekend, thanks to everyone who visited.”

There was also a pop-up museum showcasing artefacts from the birth of the canals to some of the weird and wonderful finds from below the waterline, including a shopping trolley.

Visitors also immersed themselves in virtual reality, viewing some of the awe-inspiring canals England and Wales has to offer.

Visitors got the chance to walk at the bottom of the lock. Photo by Jane Russell NNL-171124-115450001

Visitors got the chance to walk at the bottom of the lock. Photo by Jane Russell NNL-171124-115450001

Attendees were able to wear headsets and transport themselves into a tunnel, onto a boat and see views from the top of Pontcysyllte Aqueduct.

After 21 years of use the old lock gates needed to be replaced so two skilled joiners spent three and half weeks crafting new ones out of sustainable English oak.

Weighing three tonnes, the gates were craned into place on a specialised boat.

To find out more about the trust’s restoration programme and open days visit www.canalrivertrust.org.uk.

Members of the public seeing canals across the country in virtual reality. Photo by Jane Russell NNL-171124-115422001

Members of the public seeing canals across the country in virtual reality. Photo by Jane Russell NNL-171124-115422001