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Lost canal lock rediscovered by trainees

December 2014

A canal lock that has been "lost" for about a century has been rediscovered. Trainees working with the Canal and River Trust revealed the 240-year-old lock at Consall Flint Mill, in the Churnet Valley, in Staffordshire, buried beneath vegetation as part of a six-week project during December.

Glyn Parkes, from the Trust, said the lock had been replaced in about 1885 and the canal diverted. "A man who has lived here for 70 years and walked past the site every day didn't even realise it was here. It was completely buried beneath vegetation. All you could see of it was an old railing, so we got the spades out and started digging."

The trainees are encouraged to gain new skills and work towards a level 2 qualification in Work Based Environmental Conservation and is accredited by City & Guilds. The project runs alongside the Churnet Valley Living Landscape Partnership in Staffordshire and has received EU funding via Green & Blue Futures.  There are currently 10 volunteers aged from 16 to 20 who attend 3 days a week, working on various tasks on the Caldon canal.

As part of their course volunteers undertake a social action project, in which they receive a budget to plan, develop and deliver a project to improve the canal for the local community. This was done through a workshop whereby they identified possible areas where the project would be for the benefit of the local community. A number of ideas where generated and it was decided by the group, to work on the lock, which had been reclaimed by woodland and vegetation.

An historic photo from the early 20th Century was discovered in the archives of the Caldon & Uttoxeter Canals Trust, which shows the old lock as it appeared at that time.