Winter work on the waterways in Berkhamsted to ensure it makes the cut

A multi-million pound project to maintain the nation’s waterways has been out in full force on the banks at Berkhamsted.

The Canal and River Trust has drained the Gas Locks – about a five minute walk from Waitrose – and carried out essential repairs and maintenance.

The drained canal at Gas Locks, Berkhamsted, March 2014 PNL-141103-082559001

The drained canal at Gas Locks, Berkhamsted, March 2014 PNL-141103-082559001

The trust has been working on various stretches of the Grand Union Canal – which stretches 137 miles from London to Birmingham – as part of its £45m investment in the network this year.

Graeme Haines – who has 38 years experience working on the canals – is part of the team that works through the winter to ensure the canals are in tip-top shape for the warmer months, when people flock to enjoy the waterways.

He said: “We work throughout the off season so that people can enjoy the fruits of our labour come summer time.”

But he stressed the importance of being cautious in and around the canal – and some of the work he and his colleagues have carried out have improved the canal’s safety.

He said: “People don’t realise how deep the locks are.When they’re full, they look so serene and peaceful but in actual fact they can be very dangerous if you fall in.”

The team has elongated the ladders on the lock walls, which increases the chances of hauling yourself out if you were to fall in.

Other work includes repairs to the towpaths, , litter cleared, repairs to the bridges and canal walls rebuilt.

Graeme said: “Where the boats wait to go through the lock, they churn up the river bed and that in turn weakens the wall.”

The seals on the lock gates have also been replaced, prolonging their life and meaning the trust doesn’t have to fork out for an entire new set.

Graeme said: “If they’re properly maintained, a set of gates can last anything from 25 to 30 years.”

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