2008 - 2013
The purchase of Llanthony Lock
The connection to 2,500 miles of navigable waterways is one the most fundamental points in the Canal’s restoration. In 2008 an answer was found to that question by the purchase of Llanthony Lock which gave us our entry to the national network, and even part of the River Severn itself......
Although the Canal Trust already owned the point of entry to the River Severn at Over, it only connected us to the currently un-navigable Severn below Llanthony and Maisemore weirs. Until the 1980’s British Waterways owned both Llanthony and Maisemore locks, but before full restoration of the Canal was on the agenda, Maisemore was sold. Early in 2007 a similar fate was about to happen to Llanthony and so complex negotiations commenced to secure this crucial site for the Canal Trust.
A national review by British Waterways led to their decision early in 2007 to dispose of Llanthony as a non-operational asset. This consisted of a pair of cottages, the lock, and surrounding land. Acquiring the whole site ensures the Trust has the land needed for modern day requirements for safe operation and entry to the lock, as well as an income stream to make this key operational asset self financing in the long term.
Around this time the Trust received the very welcome news of a legacy, so what might have been an investment with borrowed money, funded by the income from the cottages, became a sound investment for the Trust, whilst securing this crucial operational asset.
June 2008 - The Transfer of Llanthony Lock to The Trust
The Llanthony site includes a pair of tenanted cottages, a section of River Severn, an area of land around the cottages and on the Gloucester City side, a footbridge and rights to both Llanthony and Maisemore weirs.
The advantages of Llanthony Lock
Both Maisemore and Llanthony locks were used as routes to the Canal as can be seen from historical records, but only Llanthony permits full size H&G width boats to gain entry to the Canal. There were also issues in using Maisemore as this would involve all boats coming to the H&G having to turn in the River just below The Wharf House at Over so that they would be facing upstream to have steerage to gain entry to Over lock. By using Llanthony, boats will already be approaching from downstream and a much safer approach to Over is permitted.
Llanthony will give the Canal, and the Canal Trust, a real presence in the City, a considerable PR asset of the future. The site is just to the edge of the huge Gloucester Quays redevelopment and to the corner of Gloucester Docks, with a new direct off road cycle link from here to Over, and the new south west bypass.
Llanthony: Hydro-Electric & Flood Relief Scheme
Richard Benyon MP, the Minister for Inland Waterways, at Gloucester, together with David Penny from the Canal Trust, announced the above scheme to an assembled audience in Hereford on 12th December 2011. The assembled company included executives from British Waterways and the Environment Agency together with directors and cabinet members of the Local Authorities of both Herefordshire and Gloucestershire.
The day was to permit the Minister to open the Environment Agency’s new flood storage scheme at Horsebere Brook and to launch British Waterways locally as a charity. After the Minister had delivered his speech, he handed over to David Penny to launch the £7m scheme at Llanthony to create a new lock that will also serve as a flood relief channel and a major hydro-electric scheme. As well as being a huge asset to the community residing either side of the River Severn’s route, the scheme is set to earn the HGCT a good return once operational.
It will take several years to reach the stage of acquiring planning permission and other consents, but it will now be full steam ahead, led from the HGCT headquarters at The Wharf House, Over, to reach that objective.
Read more on this …
Wind power at Alney Island
Gloucester City Council has erected a new wind turbine just behind our two cottages by the lock at Llanthony. We have been able to support this sustainable resource by agreeing that they could connect their turbine to the National Grid by means of the supply at our cottages.
This saved half the cost of installation and, in return, we receive the spare electricity whilst the Council has free power for its pump to keep the wetland on the island well watered. They also keep the “Renewable Obligation Certificates”.
A win for Gloucestershire County Council and for the Herefordshire and Gloucestershire Canal Trust.
Llanthony Lock – footbridge strengthening
As part of the Llanthony site we own the former Great Western Railway (GWR) footbridge spanning the River Severn. It acts as the crucial pedestrian access to the cottages. We have always been aware of the poor condition of parts of the structure and the Llanthony team have spent much time looking at ways to refurbish it – there was no easy solution, but we factored our liability into the price of the site when negotiating the overall purchase.
The bridge actually has a much longer history than may be appreciated as it came to the site second hand from the GWR and would have originally been a much wider structure capable of taking much more than just foot traffic. It is this considerable ‘over engineering’ for its current use that has enabled it to survive so long without major works.
During 2012 the H&G CT Legal & Project Development Team (L&PDT) had several approaches from, and discussions with, the Government Pipeline Agency who are responsible for the Government Pipeline and Storage System (GPSS). A crucial pipeline, forming part of the GPSS system, is carried by the footbridge over the River Severn. As issues of liability were raised by our legal team at The Wharf House all went quiet, until a few weeks before the Agency desperately wished to undertake work to ensure that our footbridge was able to continue to support the pipeline.
Over the course of a couple of weeks in late 2012, designs were produced, refined and approved by our L&PDT for the bridge to be enhanced in order for it to continue to carry the pipe safely; obviously we wished to also ensure that the bridge continued to serve our purpose for access. In literally last minute negotiations (whilst the contractor’s team stood waiting on site to be authorised to commence work!) legal liability for maintaining the structure – to the same functional and ‘fit for purpose’ state you see it in today (both to support the pipeline over the River and for pedestrian access to our site) was transferred from the Canal Trust to the Government Pipeline Agency. This legal transfer of responsibility for the bridge was at no cost whatsoever to the H&G CT. By ensuring that we have no future maintenance costs for this bridge a considerable ongoing liability has been removed from the H&G Canal Trust whilst all our rights of use remain.
During the autumn of 2012 consultants and specialist contractors working for the Government Pipeline and Storage System (GPSS) conducted a detailed examination of the footbridge. This followed several earlier visits – probably partly triggered by our sign “no more than 4 people at a time on the bridge” hinting at our assessment of the structure!
The tests revealed some structural weakness in the overhead cross members which tie the main lattice girder spans. If left there was the potential for strong winds to cause these to topple sideways, destroying the structure! The clamps which secured the pipeline to the bridge were also found to be defective. During a week of intense specialist contractor activity new cross members were fabricated to replace the old ones together with new pipeline supports. A system of tensioned cables was also installed to provide additional rigidity to the whole structure. Thanks to the transfer of responsibility for maintenance of this footbridge immediately before work commenced all this substantial engineering work was carried out at no cost to the H&G CT.
Llanthony Lock – restoration work
When the Canal Trust bought Llanthony Lock and cottages the whole area was very overgrown the volunteers put together a programme of work to tidy the site up over the next couple of years and to use it as a shop window for the Trust within the City of Gloucester in the future. Over the coming months exploratory surveys was carried out and from these, developing specific work programs which would not only stop the site from deteriorating any further but would start the long haul in realising its full potential.
A major clearance of the undergrowth on both side of the river was the first task. The notorious Japanese Knotweed had taken a very good hold of the river banks, and so a program was put in place to eradicate it. This would be a rolling program over a number of years, gradually weakening the weed’s hold on the banks. The undergrowth around the lock has be cleared to stop any further deterioration of the brickwork.
A wooden shelter was build for the volunteers as well as renovation of an outside toilet of one of the cottages which volunteers are able to use. A small volunteer car park was constructed on some of the cleared land on the opposite side of the River. Volunteers also created a garden at the entrance to the cottages footbridge over the Severn.
The original footbridge over the lock to the cottages was in a poor state and had been superceded some years ago and so it was temporarily removed until a future time.
Wooden fencing has been renewed around the lock and cottages giving the residence some privacy from passing visitors. Ornate iron fencing in front the cottages has been painstakingly restored.
A number of trees have been removed where they pose a safety risk, together with regular planting with native trees where ever possible.
Like all our sites the encouragement of wildlife is important and a number of bird boxes have been installed.
On-going maintenance of this large site keep a regular team of our volunteers very busy.
The Severn Way footpath runs through the centre of the Lock. In conjunction with Gloucester City Council some interpretive boards have been erected by the lock. These give visitors information about the history of the area.
Click here to see a Photo Gallery of the restoration work.
The two lock cottages were both tenanted when the H&G CT purchased them. Both were in need of repair; in particular the larger one was in need of major work. Initially there was some preventative maintenance on the cottages to ensure that they do not deteriorate during the coming winter months.
Since that time major work has been carried out. This includes replacing the guttering and windows. Volunteers have also refurbished the outside toilet, as well renewing mains water supply to the cottages. The downstairs flooring in one cottage has been replaced and a considerable amount of painting and decorating followed.
Outside an overgrowth leylandi tree was removed by tree surgeons. New fencing was erected around the gardens by volunteers.
The two cottages continue to be tenanted bringing some revenue to the Trust.
Click here to see a Short Photo Gallery of the cottage maintenance.
Llanthony Lock – history
The lock was built in 1871 to allow boats passing up and down the River Severn to avoid the new weir just to the south. This had been constructed to ensure that there was always a minimum depth of six feet in the river above Gloucester.
Among the lock cottages tenants were the Presdee family. They provided two generations of Lock Keepers – Henry Presdee, senior (1865–1948) and son, Henry James Presdee Junior, who retired in 1956.
Click here to see a Photo Gallery depicting of some of the history of Llanthony Lock.