Carpenter’s Road Lock? That’s no restoration!

IMG 2097sml - Carpenter's Road Lock? That's no restoration!

Carpenter’s Road (or Ward’s Lock as it was sometimes known) stood on the Old River Lea section of the Bow Back Rivers near Stratford. This is all now part of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park. Its regularly been claimed the Bow Back Rivers have been restored when nothing of the sort has been done. Yes they’ve been changed beyond recognition but that’s not the same thing.

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And the new lock at Carpernter’s Road? Of course Carpenter’s Lock is being restored – for boat traffic that is. A restored lock facility. There’s no argument about that. But the lock itself being restored? I fail to see how that can be. The original lock stood derelict for many years and the coming of the 2012 Olympics ensured its ultimate demolition.

The lock was a concrete and steel structure, with steps on either side plus a ramp which was clearly put there for horses (were they able to operate the lock too I wonder?) There’s no way it could be said to have been restored because there’s nothing left of it for a start. Maybe they kept the original operation gear? It seems they didn’t and in fact it’s all been confirmed as new: “Mayflower will manufacture the new lock gates, gantry and operating mechanism…” (Link).

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Even the 2017 design is a radical departure from the original. Despite having some bits of the original lock (including the counterweights, pivots, lifting gear) its practically a new lock. Its not even a rebuild. Does anyone know if the original lock came complete with snazzy mirror-clad bridges? Claiming it is a restored lock is tantamount to claiming 60163 Tornado is a restored LNER Peppercorn locomotive

Shouldn’t this be a modern interpretation of a 1930’s design? The lock will a have see through structure that will enable people to see how the mechanism works and the blurb claims this will complement the mirror-clad bridges. I can accept it being a modern, artistic interpretation of a former lock that had unusual merits. Other than that its definitely not a restoration! There are going to be no steps, no ramps, nothing of the sort found on the original.

Its clear ‘restoration’ as that being done at Carpenter’s Road isnt what it seems. Its not even a representation of the original form! The definition given below shows the inconsistency in claiming restoration is taking place:

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Restoration – as defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary.

The new locks on the Olympic waterways are somewhat of a white elephant. Both City Mills and Three Mills lock are barely used. Three Mills was a massive expense. Its only success is in regulating the levels in the Waterworks River. I cant understand any boaters wanting to navigate these locks just to see a stretch of waterway with giant crayons and swan pedallos – unless they wish to re-trace parts of the Beckham high speed boat run for the 2012 Olympics opening ceremony!

I took the latest pictures of the lock during a quick visit to the woefully under-subscribed World Para Athlete Championships. The views of the original lock were taken during several visits in 2003 & 2005 when the towpaths from the City Mills River round to the Waterworks River were still usable, complete with information boards and signs.

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The original lock. Almost entirely nothing like the 2017 version! The steps and the ramp can be seen. The fencing was to stop people falling in the lock chamberfrom the towpath.

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Ransomes & Rapier were the engineers who helped modernise the Lee & Stort navigations in the 1930s. Their equipment can be seen on other sections of the navigations.

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The topmost gate still complete in 2005. I believe the pivots were re-used in the 2017 version.

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Parts of the lower gate dumped in the undergrowth. 2003. There used to be a lock keeper’s house just up the embankment. It was demolished in the sixties or early seventies. The one still extant at nearby City Mills lock is of a similar design.

You Tube animation showing how the lock’s radial gates work.

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