Leeds & West Yorkshire

Rare glimpse of drained 18th Century Bingley Five Rise Locks

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Media captionBingley's Five Rise Locks has been drained so engineers can carry out vital repair work

Thousands of people queued to get a rare glimpse of an 18th Century lock system in West Yorkshire.

The Five Rise Locks in Bingley have been drained to allow engineers to replace its giant gates. The £200,000 job takes place once every 25 years.

People have been visiting the locks on the Leeds Liverpool Canal for more than 230 years.

British Waterways, who opened the locks to the public, said about 3,500 people visited the locks on Saturday.

Frying pans

A crowd of about 30,000 people turned out to celebrate when the locks were opened in 1774.

Carpenter Russell Clarke, who is responsible for putting in the new lock gates, said: "The engineering that went into it was amazing. We're in awe of what went on.

"I think if you asked us to build a lock like this now we would just stand there and scratch our heads."

Mr Clarke said the lock gates weighed more than five tonnes when installed.

He said the most unusual thing he had found when the locks were drained was a child's tiara.

"We do find other things like wallets, mobile phones, frying pans, anything that people carry on boats," he said.

Vince Moran, operations manager at British Waterways, said: "In the winter period from November through to March is what we call the stoppage season.

"That's when we do most of our maintenance and repair work on the 200-year-old canal system.

"So we'll be replacing over this winter about two hundred sets of lock gates."

Visitor Damien O'Keeffe, from Bingley, said he and his five-year-old daughter were impressed with the "sheer scale" of the locks.

"This was real living history. A chance to really walk in the footsteps of all the navvies and labourers whose sweat and blood built this country," he said.

"The opportunity to actually walk through the drained locks was too good to miss."

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