Friday, July 04, 2014

Extra crew as we “do” Foxton Locks

When we had my nephew Luke aboard last week he professed an interest in Foxton Locks, so I called him last night to see if he was able to join us on our trip up the flight today. He could, only drawback was that he would have to arrive with us before 07:00 as he’d be dropped off by his mum on her way to work… OK then, not a problem.

It was about a quarter to when we were sat down with a brew on board Seyella. Boats were already on the move, one was on the lock landing waiting for the lockies to turn up, another was taking on water before heading off towards Market Harborough.

Luke had labrador Zac with him, and he’s a little excitable, so we took both dogs out for nearly an hour, hoping to tire him out a bit before we tackled the locks.

We were able to start on the bottom half of the staircase of ten locks as soon as I booked in with the duty lock-keeper, following another three boats up. But we were required to wait in the short pound at the halfway point to let two boats down who were already waiting at the top.

Mags in the bottom lock at just before 09:30.IMG_0058

Luke and Zac on offside lock gate duty.IMG_0059

Going up, looking back. IMG_0062
The paddle gear is colour-coded to ensure the correct procedure is followed when using the locks. To save water the flight is built with side-ponds which store the water from the chambers rather than discharging it down the flight and wasting it. using these, very little water is lost.

The red painted gear is opened first, drawing water in from the side pond, then the white, which drops water from the chamber above into the pond.

Side pond filling from the next chamber up.IMG_0063

Waiting in the middle pound
We had to wait while those preceding us cleared the top lock and for two boats to come down and past us, so had at least 30 minutes to wait. A brew and a bacon sandwich seemed in order…

Actually 40 minutes later, the two descending boats are past and we’re on the move again.IMG_0067
The towpaths were quiet as we started up from the bottom, but the gongoozlers are starting to build up now.

Top lock, students and foreign visitors looking on, the Leicester plain beyond.IMG_0068

The flight climbs 75 feet through the 10 locks, and was completed in 1810. Seventy-six years later and becoming a major bottleneck, it was superceded by the inclined plane built alongside. The new structure cut passage time by at least an hour. The locks were kept in operation for night traffic, but as trade dwindled, lost to the competing railways, it was deemed uneconomic to keep the lift operational and it was mothballed in 1911 and finally dismantled in 1928. With the amount of leisure traffic now on the canal, the Foxton Inclined Plane Trust believe that restoration is a viable proposition.

Just before 11:00, watered up and moored up above the locks.IMG_0071

After a sit down and a cup of tea, Luke and I took the dogs for a walk around the site of the inclined plane.

How does a creature which spends most of it’s life on the water have a bath?




Top of the lift ramp.

Bottom Arm.IMG_0079

A couple of hours in the morning, weather permitting, to find somewhere in the country for the rest of the weekend. F1 at Silverstone on Sunday…

Locks 10, miles ½


Mike Todd said...

I thought I read recently that the restoration project has been abandoned because of 21C safety considerations. Or have I miss remembered?

Mike Todd said...

I thought I read recently that the restoration project has been abandoned because of 21C safety considerations. Or have I miss remembered?