A 'TIme Team' excavation of Lock 23
We had long said; “One day, we must explore the exact state of Lichfield Canal Lock 23 near London Road”. That day came on 3rd July 2017 following written consent on 23rd June from the Town Clerk for the City Council as landowners. But it was a very sad day as news spread that Chris Moulton, Lichfield”s Town Clerk had died very suddenly at home on 26th June, aged only 52. With heavy hearts, work stopped on the site at 11:00am for a minute’s silence to remember our lost friend and how much his action meant to us.
In just one day, remnants of the 220 year old Lock emerged as the 50 year infill since
abandonment was excavated, first at the head, then the tail positions. The old black & white picture below shows that the structure is extremely solid, although some of the upper walls had
been reduced when a water drainage pipe was laid through the channel before final
closure. The picture showing the blue/red paving is of the upper canal approach channel in front
of the top lock gate. The curved recess for the top lock gate is visible in the lock side
Peter Buck took copious measurements, reference points and photographs to relate the alignment and elevation of the structure to the ground. These details enabled plans for the bypass extension, canal and public footpath to be refined. A simple solution to the confined “pinch-point” between houses is to have a “curved lock”! That is to say that a marginal adjustment to the width of the head on the towpath side – which needs rebuilding anyway – and fitting an over-size Lock gate enables the western approach to be curved away without impeding the passage of boats in and out, allowing room for the bypass. The sketch shows the proposed revision of the plan to maximum effect for all users of this narrow corridor. Our Engineer has such ingenuity, turning problems into solutions in just a day!
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