Video: Waterways engineers attempt to unlock secrets of one of Yorkshire’s grand canals

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WORK began yesterday on an ambitious engineering project to reveal the hidden history of one of Yorkshire’s canals.

Waterways chiefs are draining a section of the Aire and Calder Navigation at Castleford ahead of a major £150,000 engineering project to replace giant lock 
gates.

Eric Walker, construction supervisor for the Canal and River Trust, stands on two of the new lock gates.

Eric Walker, construction supervisor for the Canal and River Trust, stands on two of the new lock gates.

Divers were on site yesterday to fit “stop planks” – a temporary dam structure which will hold the water back from the lock to enable it to be drained.

The Canal and Rivers Trust will be staging an open day at the site from 10am to 4pm on Sunday, November 18, when the public will be able to venture into the 460ft-long Bulholme Lock and walk along the bottom.

The ambitious engineering project is being undertaken in the latest in a series of major overhauls of the waterway.

The new gates are made of oak and have been built to the exact dimensions of the existing structure.

Built in the 18th century, Bulholme Lock has undergone alterations and enlargements in 1862, 1884, 1900 and the 1970s up to its present size of 460ft in length and a 8ft 3in rise in order to enable larger boats to use the system.

The Aire & Calder Navigation was built on a grand scale so that large loads could be carried from the North Sea.