Easier to repair

Published: Wednesday, 03 February 2010

A NEW agreement will make it easier to maintain and  repair Foxton Locks on the Grand Union Canal.

On Monday (1st February) a new Heritage Partnership Agreement (HPA) was signed by British Waterways, English Heritage, Harborough District Council and Leicestershire County Council signalling a change in the way that Foxton Locks, which is one of Leicestershire's top tourist attraction is managed.

In the photograph Foxton Locks Heritage Partnership—from the left Brett Culpin, Harborough District Council; Cllr Byron Rhodes, Leicestershire County Council; Dr Nigel Crowe, British Waterways; Dr Anthony Streeten, English Heritage.




With the site classed as a designated conservation area containing a scheduled ancient monument with a number a grade II listed buildings, every time any work is required, permission must be obtained, which often means a problem gets worse before any work can be undertaken, work which is often needed.

Undertake work

This new  agreement allows BW to both maintain and undertake work on the structures without the need for lengthy consultations and approvals.

Located on the Leicester Arm of the Grand Union Canal, Foxton Locks consists of 10 locks in two staircases of five locks, as built in the early 1800's by canal engineer Benjamin Bevan to overcome a climb of 75ft, and remains largely unaltered.

Also on the site is a former inclined plane, now a Scheduled Ancient Monument, that was opened in 1900 to speed up canal traffic and to save water, but was  dismantled in 1926.

Government publication

The introduction of HPA's as a new way of managing the nation's historic assets came about after the Government's publication of the 2007 white paper ‘Heritage Protection for the 21st Century' . This set out a new, simple way, of unifying the current regime whilst ensuring the historic environment is protected and effectively managed.

The Foxton Locks HPA is a pilot project that is intended to become a template for British Waterways, and was selected  as it is a compact,  historic environment that contains high value heritage assets.

Third largest

Dennis Maney, British Waterways' Heritage Adviser, explained:

"As the third largest owner of listed buildings in the UK, this new partnership agreement is a real positive step forward for BW. We have worked extremely hard over the last few years improving the Foxton site for visitors, whilst still respecting and protecting the historical importance of the site.

We are really very proud at what we have achieved. This agreement proves we have the right skills and people to manage this unique historic site and avoids the need for repeated and time consuming consent applications when we want to carry out general maintenance works."

The performance of the HPA for Foxton Locks will be actively monitored by all partners and will run initially for a five year period.