Volunteers are helping Trust staff with project to preserve the Caldon Canal for the future

THE Canal and River Trust is investing more than £157,000 on improvement work to the historic Caldon Canal which passes through the Staffordshire Moorlands

Over the next three months, three lock gates are due to be replaced and essential repairs carried out to several bridges, lock chambers and a timber walkway.

The improvement work will take in six separate projects along the 240-year-old stretch of waterway between Froghall and the Potteries.

Before each separate lock or section is drained, fish are rescued and transported to another part of the canal which remains in water. New lock gates are hand-crafted in oak at a special workshop using traditional skills and then craned into place as part of a spectacular lift movement.

Work includes:

  • bridge deck replacement at Bedford Street Bridge, Stoke-on-Trent.
  • repairs to Long Butts Drawbridge (Bridge 23) at Norton Green.
  • replacement of top gate and minor repairs at Cheddleton Top Lock (Lock 13), Cheddleton.
  • replacement of tail gates at Woods Lock (Lock 15), near Cheddleton.
  • replacement and repairs to timber walkway at London Works Bridge (Bridge 50B), near Consall.

Volunteers will also be helping Trust staff on a special project at Waterworks Lock (Lock 5) and Lock 8 Road Lock, near Stockton Brook, to replace a worn-out gate and damaged ground paddles, which are vital for filling and emptying the lock chamber for boats.

Ged King, construction manager with the Canal & River Trust, said: “This canal repair project is really important. We’ll be emptying millions of litres of water from the canal, moving thousands of fish and lifting multi-tonne lock gates through the air into place.

“Although the Caldon Canal is 240 years old, it is just as relevant today as in Georgian times, when it was constructed to move limestone from the Peak District down to the Potteries and the industrial Midlands.

“Today the canal has reinvented itself as a leisure destination and a haven for wildlife. Modern canals offer an amazing, tranquil space, where everything slows down, a great place to escape the pressures of modern life. We know from research that people are happier and more relaxed when they’re by water, and activities such as walking, cycling, boating, fishing, canoeing and paddle boarding improve people’s mental and physical well-being.

“Wooden lock gates typically last around 25 years and allow thousands of boats to travel from place to place each year. Each new gate is made to measure, weighs several tonnes, and is handcrafted from seasoned oak so that it fits perfectly in the lock chamber.  Once in place, the new lock gates will help the Trust conserve water and keep boats moving along the waterway.”