Going to Camden Lock? Hop on the DRAIN: Famous north London canal has water emptied for maintenance work (and you can walk on the bottom this weekend)
- Bottom set of lock gates are being replaced as part of £130,000 scheme at Regent's Canal
- Part of £45m countrywide scheme to refurbish hundreds of historic waterways
- Public will have chance to walk on base of lock during open-day event this weekend
Pop down to Camden Market in north London and you'll probably find somewhere you can buy spanners and knives... but you'll also find them at the bottom of its famous canal.
These were just some of the items discovered this week when Camden Lock was drained for maintenance as part of a £45million countrywide project to keep the country's canal system in good working order.
And the many tourists and students who visit the area this weekend are in for a treat as they will get the chance to venture to the bottom of the drained chamber of the Regent's Canal.
As part of the £130,000 refurbishment work at the site - also known as Hampstead Road Lock - engineers are replacing both sets of lock gates, as well as carrying out brickwork repairs, repointing and timberwork.
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A maintenance worker sweeps away silt as Camden Lock in north London is drained as part of a restoration programme
Loose change, a spanner and kitchen knives were among the objects found at the bottom of the lock during its £130,000 renovation
People who visit Camden Market this weekend are in for a treat as they will get the chance to venture to the bottom of the drained chamber on the Regent's Canal
A spokesman for the Canal & River Trust, which is overseeing the project, said: 'This programme will kick-start our
series of open days and you'll be able to visit this works site, meet
our experts and even take a tour into the bottom of the drained lock
'The free family-friendly event offers you a rare chance to see an incredible feat of engineering from a totally new perspective. Lock gates last for about 25 years and so this opportunity won't come around again soon.'
Around 2,000 miles of canals and rivers across England and Wales are cared for by the Trust, whose scheme will involve the restoration of hundreds of historic waterways. The Camden project is one of 14 open day events happening across the UK.
The locks in Camden were constructed between 1818 and 1820 by James Morgan and it is the only twin lock remaining on the canal.
The Canal & River Trust carries out year-round works to maintain canals and rivers so they can be enjoyed by 33,000 boats and 10million towpath visitors each year. Above, the lock is drained
Around 2,000 miles of canals and rivers across England and Wales are cared for by the Canal & River Trust, which is overseeing the £45m restoration of hundreds of historic waterways
The open event, where members of the public can walk on the bottom of the canal this weekend, is expected to be very popular and entry to the locks will be limited
The bottom set of lock gates are being replaced as they are old and worn, having been there for 25 years
TAKE A LOCK AROUND...
The locks were constructed between 1818 and 1820 by James Morgan.
It is the only twin-lock remaining on the canal.
The current locks are Grade II-listed and replaced an innovative, but unsuccessful, lock system designed by William Congreve to try to conserve water.
The lock is to the west of the Camden High Street road bridge.
The yard and former warehouses, an area known as Camden Lock, are on the north side of the canal, at the junction with Chalk Farm Road.
This area is adjacent to a canal basin and holds Camden Lock Market, one of the group of markets known as Camden Market.
Many of the projects are carried out during winter to minimise the impact on waterway users.
Richard Parry, chief executive of Trust, told the Evening Standard: 'By showcasing this work to the public we can give them a glimpse of the craftsmanship of the waterways’ original 18th century design and the scale of the work we do to care for it.'
As one of the most popular free attractions in London, the Camden Lock area will no doubt have heavy footfall tomorrow and Sunday, especially in the run-up to Christmas.
The event is expected to be very popular and entry to the locks will be limited.
Therefore, you will be required to book onto a tour when you arrive, and will be allocated on a first come, first serve basis.
Graham Smith, construction supervisor at the site, said: 'We're replacing the bottom set of lock gates on lock 1 bay. It's old and worn, and has been there 25 years. They leak and need to retain water.
'We're drilling so that we can take out the drop pot, which is like the hinge for a door. It takes the weight of the water, thousands of tonnes of it.
'The process involves putting a timber dam in place and overpumping the water to allow for the removal of the lock gates, before replacing them.
'The refurbishment is important to keep canal traffic moving.'
The Trust carries out year-round works to maintain canals and rivers so they can be enjoyed by 33,000 boats and 10 million towpath visitors each year.
For more information on open day events, go to the Canal & River Trust website.
The locks were constructed between 1818 and 1820 by James Morgan and it is the only twin lock remaining on the canal. Above, some of the objects found in the silt
How it normally looks: A narrowboat tour at Camden Lock
A map showing where canal works are taking place in west London
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