The Environment Agency is set begin its annual winter programme of major repairs and refurbishments to locks along the non-tidal River Thames.
The work will begin on tomorrow (Tuesday 1 November), with eight sites, five in Oxfordshire and one each in Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Surrey having a total of £1.2m spent on them.
The work is carried out during the winter months when fewer boats are on the river. This helps to minimise disruption if locks need to be taken temporarily out of service.
Included within the work undertaken is the removal of both pairs of lock gates at Shifford Lock near Bampton in Oxfordshire, and Kings Lock in Oxford, so that the frames can be re-faced with new sheets of timber.
With each gate weighing at around eight tonnes, removal with be carried out by crane and transported by low-loader lorry to the Environment Agency’s depot in Osney, near Oxford where its in-house team will carry out the work.
At Penton Hook Lock in Surrey, the downstream gates will be removed to allow the hinges to be repaired.
This will be done by bracing the lock chamber and then pumping it dry. Before the lock is fully drained, any fish found in it will be safely transferred to the main river – this is normally many hundreds if not thousands of fish.
Barry Russell, Waterways Manager, said: “We maintain and operate 45 locks in total. These are part of a portfolio of over 1000 navigation structures on the Thames that we look after.
“Many of these are important heritage assets which we are custodians of on behalf of the nation, and without them, boating on the Thames as we know it simply wouldn’t be possible. So taking good care of them is a huge responsibility for us, but one we’re very proud to have.”
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