Glimpse of history as 200-year-old canal lock in Chorley is drained for repairs

Lock 61 of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, in Chorley, was drained to refurbish part of the historic waterway.
Lock 61 of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal, in Chorley, was drained to refurbish part of the historic waterway.
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Members of the public with a keen eye for history were able to take stock of the 200-year-old technology behind Lancashire’s canals in what was a one-off event for the county.

Organised by the Canal and River Trust, Lock 61 of the Leeds and Liverpool Canal at Johnson’s Hillock, Chorley, was drained as part of the charitable trust’s winter open days, inviting people to take a look behind the scenes of what keeps canals and rivers working.

Urgent repairs were made to the waterway's bottom gate.

Urgent repairs were made to the waterway's bottom gate.

Visitors got the chance to go in to the lock on Sunday, January 28, to inspect its walls and floors, marvelling at the engineering behind the historic waterway.

They were also be able to try their hand at canoeing as part of taster sessions on offer and experiencing the ‘virtual hub’ – a place to watch a virtual reality video of the Trust’s more unusual locations.

As well as giving visitors a glimpse into the detail behind the canal’s construction, the draining of the lock is part of the Canal and River Trust’s £38 million five-month programme of repairs to England and Wales’ waterways.

Work to Lock 61, which includes replacing the bottom lock gates and repairs to the usual stone lock chamber, is set to cost the charity nearly £100,000.

Supervisor for the Canal & River Trust, Mark Overum, said: “Replacing these lock gates is really important work that will let the local canal network to be used by boaters, cyclists, anglers and walkers.

“It’s a busy lock and last year it saw over 1,150 boats travel through it.”