Work gets underway to help protect and restore part of the Worcester & Birmingham Canal system.
British Waterways is carrying out what it describes as essential maintenance to the Tardebigge lock system by replacing five lock gates and inspecting a tunnel.
Tardebigge is home to the largest Grade 2 listed lock flight in the UK.
South Wales & Severn Waterway Manager Nick Worthington said: ” This stretch of waterway contains a fascinating snapshot of waterway history. A 528m (580 yards) long tunnel to the north and lock flight to the south.”
Thirty locks comprise the lock flight, making it the largest flight in Britain, raising the Worcester & Birmingham Canal 67m (220ft).
The lock flight is an important hub heading north into Birmingham and south into Worcestershire.
The new lock gates are being manufactured and restored at British Waterways’ own workshop using sustainably sourced oak.
It is hoped that the work will be completed well ahead of the new boating and visitor season.
Tardebigge Tunnel repairs
Whilst working in the area workmen have drained the Tardebigge Tunnel to carry out an inspection which hasn’t been done since 1978.
Local myth suggests that tunnel is haunted and contains a secret brick archway below water level leading into a cavern.
Nick Worthington said of this work: “We’ve drained over 2.2m gallons of water to carry out this maintenance work and whilst the locks are empty we are restoring brick work at the bottom of the chamber using lime mortar instead of cement to preserve the existing structure.
An Act of Parliament was passed in 1791 authorising the building of the canal. It is 47km (29 miles) long and has 58 locks.