Another banana lock in the making?

Published: Sunday, 16 July 2017

A BULGE appearing on one of the narrow lock sides of the Staffs & Worcs Canal is very likely to cause an extended stoppage in the future.

Many of you may remember the 'banana' locks of the recent past, where narrow lock sides have bowed inwards making them impossible to navigate, that then have to be rebuilt, and it seems there is another in the making on the Staffs & Worcs.

Canal & River Trust tell of a bulge in one of the lock chamber walls of Filance Lock (37) at Penkridge that is now restricting boats of 'just over' 7ft width, with reports of a couple being stuck.

Wolverhampton Flight

It was during June 2013 that a wall of lock 20 of the Wolverhampton Flight caved inwards, completely closing the flight for the rest of the season, where, as the picture shows, that lock side had to be excavated and completely rebuilt.

Aylesbury Banana2At the time CaRT attempted to blame vandals who had drained part of the flight a few days before, stating:

A number of pounds on the Wolverhampton lock flight have been drained as a result of vandalism. Our investigations have revealed the lock wall has moved significantly, probably through water ingress from the recent vandalism.

Of course it was not vandalism at all, but the wall giving way.

Aylesbury Arm

But by far the worst 'banana' was at Buckland Lock on the Aylesbury Arm that closed the Arm for seven months, with boats trapped either side of the lock having to be craned out and back in at either side of the lock.

In this case, the entire lock had to be rebuilt, with problems with access causing more delay to the construction.

From past experience it has been discovered that once a bulge appears, the continuing pressure will not allow it to return to its original shape, so a long stoppage seems possible.