Newhouse Lock restoration (2002-2006)

This project restored the completely derelict lock and surrounding features to full working order during the period 2002 – 2006. The site is on the southern, unnavigable section of the canal approximately four miles southwest of Garthmyl and one mile northwest of Aberbechan (OS map; aerial view). Prior to the work commencing, the whole site was overgrown; the lock walls and adjoining overbridge were in poor condition; the gates displaced and rotted; the upstream spillway crumbling and the downstream wash-walls collapsed. The condition of the by-wash culvert draining the spillway was unknown.

From the bridge. Before…
…and after

The work was funded by a £50,000 Heritage Lottery Fund grant awarded to the society. In fact, the grant application was written in cooperation with British Waterways (BW) who, being a state-owned body at the time, were not permitted to apply directly for funding from this source. Powys County Council and Mr Roger Wilkinson also provided funding for the project.

The physical work on the lock and surrounds was also a joint venture between the society and BW. At the outset, BW undertook to dismantle and repair the lock chamber as necessary and to supply and fit new gates. BW also undertook to oversee the society’s work elsewhere on the project which took place in parallel with that of BW. The volunteers’ work included dismantling and rebuilding: the spillway; one of the parapets of the bridge immediately downstream of the lock; 80 metres of retaining wall on the downstream side of the lock and the area of the downstream termination of the by-wash.

The spillway. Before…
…and after

The grant application was predicated on the expected condition of the various assets as revealed by a pre-application condition survey. Unfortunately, when work started, the condition of the lock walls was found to be much worse than indicated in the survey and a complete rebuild was necessary. Similarly, it turned out that the by-wash culvert leaked so badly that a liner had subsequently to be inserted. BW footed the bill for these works outwith the grant funding. BW also installed a pipe to divert water around the lock site during the duration of the works. The installation of new gates, paid for from the grant, completed BW’s major contribution to the project.

The original condition of the lock walls
Rebuilding of the lock walls

The society volunteers worked two days per month except December/January/February – the ‘restoration season’. Prior to the grant application, work concentrated on removing silt from the lock chamber to enable the structural survey to take place. After funding was secured, work proceeded on all four major tasks simultaneously from 2004 onward. Reconstruction of the towpath, levelling and planting the surrounds of the lock and laying the adjacent hedge completed the project in 2006.

Rebuilding the downstream wash wall
Reconstructed bridge parapet

The lock was formally opened by the local MP Lembit Opik in June 2006 in a ceremony that coincided with the annual Montgomery Dingy Dawdle. Sadly, because of its isolation from navigable sections of the canal, these were some of the very few boats to use the lock since its restoration.

Towards the bridge. Before…
…and after

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