Thursday, 25 April 2013

Repairs at Prison Bridge, and Trainee Lock Keepers on the Flight.

In March 2012 a young man drove his car through the parapet of Prison Bridge into the canal.  He had been out drinking in a local pub, and his two friends managed to get out of the submerged car, but sadly the driver could not be rescued from his upturned vehicle, and he drowned at the scene.  Since this time, the bridge had been cordoned off, but at long last this week, work has started to restore the parapet.  The bridge is a listed structure, and must be returned to its original condition.   Traffic lights will control the flow of traffic for the next 8 weeks, which threatens to cause long delays at the height of the rush hour.  The lights will be manually operated  during peak times.   

The scaffolding is being erected this week, and half the road is cordoned off for one-way traffic operation, to create a safe working environment in which they can work.   Canal boats can still pass under the bridge, as can walkers on the towpath.   Many of the coping stones from the parapet fell into the canal or landed on the bank during the accident, and these will be restored to their original position on the bridge.

Trainee lock keepers at lock 32.

Since April 2012 "The River and Canal Trust" has taken over the running of the waterways from "British Waterways," and every attempt is being made to encourage people to volunteer for various duties on the canals.   The Caen Hill flight of 16 continuous locks needs keepers to help boaters through the locks and control the water supply.  Accidents do happen, and boats have sunk in the locks, so the attendance of several keepers is needed at all times to regulate boat movements and prevent accidents.

The swan looks on at the trainee lock keepers.

Swans are nesting beside the locks at the moment, which adds another problem.  These birds are very agressive and territorial in the breeding season, and each pair needs to be kept in its own territory.  When allowed into the lock with a boat, they swim down into the next pound and fight other swans.   Feathers then fly!

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