Canal open day offers visitors chance to stand in drained lock at Stoke Bruerne

Workers will drain a lock in Northamptonshire as part of a �3.5 million maintenance programme

Workers will drain a lock in Northamptonshire as part of a �3.5 million maintenance programme

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The Canal & River Trust has begun a five-month, £3.5million maintenance programme to canals and rivers across Northamptonshire and Buckinghamshire.

As part of the works, the Stoke Bruerne Lock will both be drained and visitors will be able to venture into the drained structure.

Workers will drain a lock in Northamptonshire as part of a �3.5 million maintenance programme

Workers will drain a lock in Northamptonshire as part of a �3.5 million maintenance programme

In addition to this year’s winter maintenance programme, the trust is also launching a three month survey to uncover ‘what lurks beneath’ the canals across Northamptonshire.

Across the country hundreds of shopping trolleys, traffic cones, car tyres, bottles and plastic bags are hauled out of the canals by the trust and its volunteers at a cost of nearly £1 million each year.

The trust, which is calling for an end to rubbish being dumped in its waterways, will be announcing the results in spring 2016.

Vicky Martin, waterway manager for the Canal & River Trust’s South East region said: “Our open days are a fascinating showcase which give local people in the chance to get a behind-the-scenes look at some amazing craftsmanship. To walk along the bed of a 200 year old lock, see the waterways’ original 18th century design and understand the scale of the work we do to care for it, is a real privilege.”

As part of its maintenance programme, the Trust will be working on around 164 lock gates across the country as well as carrying out repairs to aqueducts, reservoirs and tunnels.

Many of the biggest projects are carried out during the winter months to minimise the impact on waterway users.

Richard Parry, chief executive of the Canal & River Trust, says: “We care for a remarkable network of historic waterways which are still working just as they were designed to 200 years ago. Keeping them open and safe requires a huge amount of planning, investment and craftsmanship and involves a wide range of experts, from civil engineers and hydrologists to heritage experts and ecologists.”

The Stoke Bruerne open weekend is taking place on 13th and 14th February. For more information go to CanalRiverTrust