Thames Lock in the Wey Navigation has a new pair of lock gates, and residents were give a rare opportunity to inspect them from inside the lock at the end of November, on completion of the work. Large numbers of interested visitors were treated to tours by guides with a deep knowledge of the Wey Navigation history, construction and maintenance.
The wooden lock gates last about twenty years, and this year it was the turn of the lower gates to be renewed. Temporary barriers were installed immediately upstream and downstream of the lock, and the water pumped out. The huge gates are held in their hinges by gravity, so changing the gates was a matter of hoisting out the old and lowering the new custom-built gates into place.
This empty lock gave a rare chance to view the parts of Thames Lock that are normally under water. The upper gates are smaller, as they sit on top of the step to the higher level of the navigation.
The floor of the lock was originally wood — which is preserved by being under water with very little access to oxygen — but was replaced by concrete some time ago. The step beneath the upper gates is still made of wood, and includes original Elm baulks which have survived hundreds of years since the navigation was constructed.
Lock gates suffer decay because they are exposed to air and water. The effects can be seen in the old lower gates, pictured here waiting to be taken away by barge. One can only wonder how many boats have those gates have helped pass up and down the Wey Navigation.