The trust celebrates the 250th anniversary of Bingley Five

Published: Friday, 01 March 2024

THE Canal & River Trust is commemorating the 250th anniversary of the Grade I listed Bingley Five Rise Locks.

And Grade II* listed Bingley Three Rise Locks on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal on the Leeds & Liverpool Canal with a special event on Saturday 23rd March, from 10am to 3pm.

FiveRiseOldWonders of the waterways

Celebrating what makes Bingley Five Rise Locks one of the seven ‘wonders of the waterways’, the event will showcase the past, present and future of Britain’s steepest lock flight on the longest single canal in the country and highlight the modern challenges of looking after this historic working structure.

As the steepest flight of locks in Britain, Bingley Five Rise lifts and lowers boats around 60 feet, with the five locks operating as a 'staircase', in which the lower gate of one lock forms the upper gate of the next. Each set of lock gates weighs six tonnes and 23 feet tall, being amongst the tallest in the country.

The gates are handmade by the Canal & River Trust at its workshop at Stanley Ferry and must be replaced approximately every 25 years to keep the locks and canal open.

30,000 gathered

On 21st March 1774, around 30,000 people it is told, gathered along the towpath to watch the first boats make the 60 feet descent through Bingley Five Rise Locks. Reported by the Leeds Intelligencer newspaper to be the ‘noblest works of the kind that perhaps are to be found in the same extent in the universe’.

FiveRiseDown250 years on, they are a much-loved attraction for leisure and wellbeing and a vital link in the canal’s wildlife corridor stretching over the Pennines thanks to the work of the trust.

Sharron Bright, youth and community engagement coordinator at Canal & River Trust is organising the event and explained:

“We hope people from the local community and beyond will join us in helping celebrate this remarkable wonder of the waterways.

“You’ll have the chance to meet the experts who care for and keep our canals and locks alive and learn how to support your local waterway and even get involved by volunteering. It’s a really varied programme, so there should be something for everyone to enjoy—with families, boaters, crafters, and those interested in history and nature.

“The top of the locks offers stunning views of the Aire Valley with Five Rise Locks Café open for refreshments. Walking towards Bingley Three Rise Locks there will be paddle sports and family-friendly activities. Damart Café, next to the canal, is opening to the public for the first time, offering refreshments and an arts programme with talks, weaving demonstrations and readings by the trust’s Canal Poet Laureate Roy McFarlane.

bingley five rise“The local community are supporting the celebrations and helping to extend the event from the canal towpath into the town centre, with Bingley Town Council hosting an artisan market, plus live music and performances.

“We’d like to thank all those who are helping with this event, including Bingley Town Council, Bradford District Council, Damart, Leeds & Liverpool Canal Society, Sport England, BD25, Sustrans, Players of People’s Postcode Lottery (PPL) and Northern Rail.”

This drop-in event is packed with free activities from town to towpath. For latest programme information visit the Canal & River Trust website and search ‘Bingley 250’ - Bingley Five Rise 250 | Canal & River Trust (

Event highlights include:

See the ‘UK’s steepest staircase locks’ in action
Lock keeper demonstrations and talks by volunteers
Boat trips along the canal
Guided heritage walks & talks
Ecology and environment talks, plus fish tank display
Bird watching, nature spotting trail and activities at Bingley North Bog
Canoe and SUP sessions—some sessions pre-bookable through our Eventbrite page
Floating market and Kennet boat and floating museum
Canal art & craft activities, bushcraft, sketch walks
Demonstrations, handling sessions and talks
Let’s Fish taster sessionsbook for Let's Fish through our Eventbrite page
#TopOfTheLocks selfie opportunity
Bell ringing and brass band performances

Travelling to the event by train is easy, with two Northern Rail stations located within walking distance at Bingley and Crossflatts. Car parking information can be found on Bradford District Council’s website.

This event and all activities hosted by Canal & River Trust are free and open to all. Donations are welcome on the day to support the continued work to #KeepCanalsAlive.