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The challenge of Lock 14

2017 was just a few days old when the canal maintenance and repair programme began again, with more activity planned for the year ahead in Marple.

A typically grey and damp January day saw work commence to replace a lock gate on the Peak Forest Canal. As part of a £43M region-wide scheme, a team of operatives from the Canal and River Trust arrived and closed off the surrounding area. Lock 14 was always going to be a challenge. The junction of Lockside and Stockport Road proved too narrow; the heavy equipment needed could not be brought by road. The answer, however, was glaringly obvious – the canal's original purpose had been to transport bulky loads, so the kit was loaded onto barges and brought directly into the lock.

Marple Locks

Under the watchful eye of a team from BBC TV's Northwest Tonight, a crane was moved into place, straddling the canal. Slowly and carefully the 2.3 tonne gate was lifted clear, 18 feet above the canal floor. Team leader Mike McGriskin carefully supervised the removal  then reversed the process as a replacement was slotted into place. Upkeep of the canals is a never-ending job, but the new gate should last for around a quarter of a century.

On January 21st an open day was held to showcase the ongoing work. An exhibition at the Social and Forces Club proved highly popular, with the Revealing Oldknow's Legacy project displaying information about archaeological findings, historical documents and fascinating photographs taken inside the Marple Lime Kilns. With Lock 14 drained, several hundred visitors took advantage of a unique opportunity to walk along its floor. Guided tours were given with experts on hand to explain the construction and workings. Adding to the atmosphere on the day were several historic personages. Benjamin Outram, canal engineer and designer of the Aqueduct, was happy to pose for photos, looking remarkably well for his 252 years of age.

Marple Locks

For 2017, Revealing Oldknow's Legacy is embarking on an oral history project. They would like to hear from  people with stories or memories of the three heritage sites (Mellor Mill, Marple Aqueduct and the Lime Kilns), or volunteers able to meet with and interview people. Working with an accredited historian, volunteers will receive training in how to conduct interviews and report their findings. To find out more about this, or other ways to work with the project, please email Vicky Entwistle: