Upgraded Culham lock set to reopen after flooding caused delay

EASY DOES IT: New lock gates are fitted into position at Culham Lock

EASY DOES IT: New lock gates are fitted into position at Culham Lock

First published in News The Oxford Times: Photograph of the Author by , Reporter covering Blackbird Leys and Greater Leys. Call me on 01865 425403

IT HAS been closed for nearly five months, but Culham Lock will soon be reopened to the public after flooding delayed the £150,000 works.

The lock, just south of Abingdon, has been closed to the public since last November.

Two sets of gates that form the lock needed to be inspected, cleaned and refurbished, as they had not had any maintenance since their installation 17 years ago.

Environment Agency spokesman Dan Taylor said: “The flooding has put the job back by a few weeks and delayed when we can open it to the public.

“The water came up several feet over the banks of the river here.

“We were originally hoping to be done by the end of February.”

The lock will now be opened on Friday, March 28, once resurfacing is complete.

Mr Taylor said: “These kinds of gates are typically inspected at 15-year intervals.

“They’re essentially buildings; they need maintenance.”

While the gates were being renovated, a diving team went into the lock chamber for an inspection and the team also completed repairs to the sluices, heel and mitre posts.

Environment Agency operatives manager Barry Russell, right, said: “We had to do emergency repairs elsewhere along the lock in the last few years, so this is a preventative measure.

“We wanted to avoid carrying out any emergency works during boating season.

“We do what we can to keep the waterway open and the public using the Thames.”

Lock-keeper Rich Hawkins said that the work hadn’t disrupted any boating enthusiasts as flooding had meant the river was unsafe to navigate.

He said: “This work hasn’t really disrupted anybody, there’s been hardly any traffic at all.

“Usually you get some people on boats who want to move and can’t, but with the river being as high and fast-flowing as it is, they can’t move anyway.

“In summer it would cut the river in half, which would cause big problems, but in winter it’s not a great deal of people on the river.”

Culham residents are also looking forward to getting their riverside footpath back.

Parish council clerk Lucy Dalby said: “It’s been shut since before Christmas – it’ll be good to have it back.

“It just inconveniences dog walkers and anyone who wants to stroll around the parish.”

Culham Lock is not the only gate along the Thames that is being repaired.

As part of a £3m lock regeneration scheme for the River Thames, Grafton Lock, Sandford Lock and Iffley Lock are all undergoing repairs or replacement work on their gates.

As well as this, Osney Lock is having its smaller weir replaced.

It should have been reopened before Christmas, but has been delayed until the middle of this month because of the flooding.

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