Wednesday, 20 February 2013
Dowley Gap Locks
The Dowley Gap Locks are a two-rise staircase lock, raising the level of the canal by 9m (20ft). Built around 1773, they are Grade II listed, of historic and architectural interest particularly as they are linked to the Three and Five Rise Locks in nearby Bingley. It is strangely moving and awe-inspiring to be able to climb right down into the locks, looking at the sluices and the massive lock gates, which are being replaced as part of the ongoing maintenance programme for the canal.
Britain's historic 2000 mile network of waterways is now managed by the Canal & River Trust, a charity which took over their care and preservation from British Waterways in 2012. I'm not exactly sure why that change was considered necessary but I think it was in order to move away from a purely 'business model' towards something broader that encompasses the history, educational, wildlife and amenity value of this precious resource and makes use of volunteers' skills and enthusiasm as well as that of its paid staff. It's worth looking at the Trust's website, which is well-presented and very interesting. Since I spend much of my leisure time walking up and down the local stretches of river and canal, I have just joined the Trust as a 'friend'. Hopefully in the future it will become as valuable and revered an institution as The National Trust, which so ably manages and preserves Britain's heritage of wild landscapes and historic buildings.