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A Tender has been issued this week by Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council for repair works to four Locks on Newry Canal.

The Locks are Waddell's Lock (Lock 9), McVeigh's Lock (Lock 10), Poyntzpass Lock (Lock 11) and Terryhoogan Lock (Lock 13) and the repairs are estimated to cost £190K excluding VAT. Three of the locks are situated between Newry and Poyntzpass.

Lock 11 - Poyntzpass Lock, one of the four destined for repair.

The Newry and Portadown Branch of the Inland Waterways Association of Ireland has welcomed the repairs which they see as a starting point to enable the eventual reinstallation of lock gates on all four locks.

Tanya Duffy, Chairperson, Newry and Portadown Branch said "For years we have been identifying the disrepair on the locks along the canal and lobbying the Council to get these urgent repair works done. It's taken years but we are delighted to see commitments and progress being carried out, especially on these four locks."

Tanya adds "The locks were in such a state of disrepair that either the lock gates were falling apart or completely gone. The continuous water flow going through the canal has damaged the actual lock chambers themselves to such a state that if they were left alone and not have this urgent repair it  could see them get to a point where they are past the point of no return."

The repairs are only a starting point to enable the group to re-water certain areas so that they can be navigable by canoes and kayaks. Tanya explains "Once these repairs are completed we can start doing studies and surveys on how the lock gates eventually could be built and fitted. We have previously built two lock gates, one at Scarva and one at Poyntzpass to show that the lock gates can be put in and they can be made usable again.

"We have raised money and built the lock gates installed at those two places and showed that it doesn't affect the area around it for flooding and stuff like that, and we already have the proof of concept that gates can be added on to these new ones and hopefully get them to a position where they can be working again to allow kayaks and smaller vessels in that stretch of the canal."

With the work that Newry and Mourne Council have already done on Lock 5 the Association hopes that they can continue to build and get these locks back to restored state to make the Canal a more user friendly place for water based activities.

Small steps adding up to end goal

Stressing the importance of small steps towards the end goal of a complete re-opening of Newry Canal the branch Chairperson adds "It's a very long term goal but even getting the two Councils together to put together a plan of how the Canal is going to be looked after, protect what we have there already and allow for more work to be done to bring it closer to a point where we could see small craft on it. It's a long term goal but at the same time small steps add up to the end goal." 

 

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