Members of the New Cut Trail Group, an organisation established to improve the ecology and heritage of the area, worked closely with officials of the Environment Agency and Warrington Borough Council to firstly have the blocks carefully uncovered and then protected as best as possible but still be part of the flood defences to protect neighbouring properties.
Approach towpaths on both the river side and canal side of the lock have been vastly improved as a component of the flood defence work and the whole area will see a real make over. Currently under development are three interpretation boards which will explain to visitors the importance of the canal and its surroundings whilst also detailing the life of “Old Billie” the world’s longest living horse which worked along local canal towpaths
The remainder of the lock remains covered in vegetation as this land is not in the ownership of the council but approaches have been made to the landlord for permission to begin some protective restoration.
The restoration work uncovered iron work and bollards still in situ whilst the tops of lock gates are still visible and members of the group believe that more waterway archaeology remain hidden under the accumulated debris on the other side of the lock.
Ian Johnson, Chairman of the group said “Nobody really expected that so much of the archaeology remained hidden and it was a brilliant surprise to first witness it. Some of our members present a strong case for retention to the Environment Agency and council officials and the level of cooperation has been admirable. The agencies now view the canal as important in British transport history which bodes well for the flood defences at the far end of the canal at Woolston Lock”
Anne Price, Press Officer for the group added “Heritage can be a key component of economic growth and yet Warrington in a recent survey on towns making the most of their heritage was assessed very close to bottom. Hopefully, this project with everyone working together, to develop what is a model scheme our next assessment will place the town much higher up the league”
Ian Johnson - Chairman
Lynda Eagan - Vice Chair