CANAL fans are being invited to walk down into the bottom of a drained lock on the Kennet & Avon Canal at Seend on Saturday to see repair and restoration works up close.

Three canal locks in Seend are receiving some well-earned attention as part of the Canal & River Trust’s £38 million five-month maintenance programme across waterways in England and Wales from November to March.

The charity is spending £281,000 on Wiltshire locks 17, 18 and 19 on the Kennet & Avon Canal to ensure they are working smoothly for the forthcoming busy boating season and to help conserve water.

In total eight new gates have been made and are being fitted into place at locks 18 and 19, the handmade bespoke gates alone costing £180,000.

Robin Hunter, Canal & River Trust site supervisor working on the repairs, says: “We’ve finished the work at Lock 19, fitting four brand new gates, and are now braving the cold to fit new gates at lock 18 and repair the brickwork at lock 17.

“In order to carry out the work we’ve drained the water from each lock and cleared the brickwork at the bottom of the lock of the silt which builds up over the years.

“I was actually part of the team which changed the gates at lock 18 20 years ago so it’s nice to be part of the cycle of the canal.”

To celebrate the essential works, the charity is holding a free public open day on Saturday. People will be able to walk down into the drained chamber of lock 18 to see the new gates up close.

They will also be able to talk to engineers about the challenges and rewards of repairing 18th-century engineering with 21st-century technology.

There will also be family activities, poetry recitals and virtual headsets to take a walk along stretches of waterway all across the country.

The lock gates are being replaced as part of Canal & River Trust’s annual £38 million, five-month programmer of repairs to England and Wales’ waterways between November and March.

The charity carries out an annual programme of restoration and repairs to the nation’s waterways during the winter to minimise the inconvenience of navigation closures to boaters during the busy summer season.

Richard Parry, chief executive of Canal & River Trust, says: “Our teams work year-round to keep the waterways open and safe for everyone to enjoy, which requires a huge amount of planning, investment and craftsmanship as well as a wide range of knowledge and expertise.” By opening the lock to the public we can give them a glimpse into the waterways’ original 18th Century design and explain the scale of the Canal & River Trust’s work to care for the waterways now. We believe that whatever you do life is better by water so we want to inspire more people to support us to ensure we can continue to make our waterways great places to enjoy.”

To find out more about the Restoration & Repairs programme and the open days happening across the country go to