Newry.ie

Lock gates that have been on Newry Canal since the 1870’s have been replaced in the first project of it’s kind on the Canal thanks an inspirational project by volunteers from the Inland Waterways Association of Ireland Newry and Portadown Branch.

Two new hand made metal gates were installed at Poyntzpass yesterday with a further two at Terryhoogan today!

Testing the new lock gates at Poyntzpass. Photograph: Columba O'Hare
Testing the new lock gates at Poyntzpass. Photograph: Columba O'Hare

The gates replaced the existing lock gates that had rotted away over time.

It followed a period of six months of research, building sandbag dams to test the effects of an increased water level on the historic canal.

Peter Maxwell, Chairman IWAI Newry and Portadown explained “We’ve proved that it could hold back a metre of water without flooding and these gates, the steel plate only comes up a metre on them but at a later date they can come up the rest of the height. We got permission from the Environment Agency Built Herritage to do this because the job is reversible, that's the whole thing. We don’t damage any of the existing structure and it’s reversible so we can take these gates out just as easily as we put them in.”

IWAI Newry and Portadown members put the lock gate in place. Photograph: Columba O'Hare
IWAI Newry and Portadown members put the lock gate in place. Photograph: Columba O'Hare

The gates were made solely by hand by volunteers from IWAI Newry and Portadown Branch. They started on the 11th of February and after putting in 750 man/hours they manufactured two pairs of lock gates, one set for Poyntzpass and the other for the opposite end of the summit level at Terryhoogan.

The gates havestill  to be plumbed up and seals made for the centre, sluices have to go in etc and the Rivers Agency are dredging and clearing the weed. It’s very much an experimental project but once finished it will put a metre of water into the canal that should ensure people will be able to canoe that stretch over the summer.

Concluding Peter added “Someone very ‘unkindly’ pointed out that we are all volunteers and that we are also all on Bus Passes and every single one of us today and yesterday is indeed on a bus pass!”

At Newry.ie we salute all the top notch people power and talent that has made this a reality and we commend yet another step towards an increased awareness of our Canal and it’s tremendous potential both now and in years to come.

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