Thursday, 10 February 2011

Vale Royal Locks rebuilt..........a haven for wildlife

Vale Royal Locks...... collapse
One of my favourite walks is done straight from my doorstep. I leave my car at home and just walk to the town centre then along the banks of the River Weaver to Vale Royal Locks.
The Weaver is a navigable river about 50 miles in length and flows through some wonderful countryside from its source near Peckforton.
Vale Royal Locks were opened in 1865 as the River Weaver was engineered into a navigation to ship goods from Winsford and Northwich via the River Mersey to the open sea and beyond.
A section of the stonework - the bullnose - on the "Small Lock" at Vale Royal on the Weaver Navigation collapsed on 28th August 2003.
Despite being called the Small Lock it is in fact 30m x 6.5m. The Big Lock is 58.8m x 10.5m.Repair work began in February 2009 and was scheduled to be completed in November at a reported cost of over £2.5 million pounds.
It was necessary to first dam a section of the river and to drain the lock and sluice area. The last of the water was pumped out on the 18th of March 2009
The picture below shows an aerial view of the locks: the damage is at X; C to D is where the Dam is constructed; S is the Sluice; A is the Small Lock; B is the Big Lock.

The area around the locks is a mix of farmland, woodlands and ponds all supporting a variety of wildlife. Kingfishers, Cormorants, Grey Wagtails, Mute Swans and roosts of Grey Herons are just some of the birds I often get to see in this lovely place. My memories go all the back to the 1960's as crossing the locks was also on a section of my school cross country course......happy days!

Damming the river to repair the lock
Sorted masonry

The new nose...

One of the the many reasons I visit this lovely area.


grammie g said...

Hi live in a very interesting place and how great to walk out your front door and be a part of this interesting history !!
That is quite the project hope nothing changes in the process!!
Is this the River Mersey of the Ferry Cross the Mersey ...Gerry and the Pacemakers???? : }}

joo said...

Lucky you to have such a great walk starting just at your doorsteps! It's what I love about the UK most - walks, walks and more walks:)
The photo of Heron is superb!
Have a nice afternoon

Ruth said...

A nice informative post Andrew.....I gather you went to Sir John Deanes school as it was then if you crossed the locks while running?
Enjoy your weekend!

Frank said...

Far too many of our waterways have been allowed to fall into decay so it's great to see this restoration work. I often walk alongside the Wey Navigation but regretfully it's not on the doorstep. Hope the weekend is kind to you.

theconstantwalker said...

grammie It is indeed the famous mersey in the song.

joo Many thanks for your lovely comments

Ruth The staff at johnny deane's did indeed try to educate me. To be honest I loved my time there esp doing sports like "cross country running!"

Frank You are so right about the neglect of some our heritage. I think this lock repair had a lot more to do with the £11 million spent restoring Anderton Boat Lift which is only one set of locks further down river.

The Farne Islands said...

Thank you for your kind comments. Your pictures are great aswell. I will enjoy reading your blogs.

NicoleB said...

Oh, it looks great!
I am so glad they rebuilt it and did such a good job!
Wildlife galore :)