This weekend (22nd – 23rd Nov 2014) boaters and gongoozlers have the rare opportunity to enjoy a free open day on the Regent's Canal in East London.

The Canal and River Trust have drained a 1km stretch of the 200-year-old Regent’s Canal to undertake essential restoration works to the canal walls. The event offers an unusual chance to actually walk along the bed of the canal.

I went to a CRT open day a couple of years ago and was able to walk around inside a drained lock on the Marsworth flight near Tring. The Marsworth flight is a succession of seven locks on the Grand Union Canal in Hertfordshire. It takes the canal up to what is known as the Tring Summit Level where there are a group of reservoirs feeding the waterway.

The Trust were replacing the lock gates at lock 43 so the lock had been drained and scaffolding was erected in the lock. Visitors were then invited down scaffolding steps to stand on the scaffolding boards in the bottom of the lock. We actually queued up for this opportunity to climb down into the lock chamber! Canal and River Trust experts were on hand to give us a brief explanation of how a lock works and what the works entailed. Having been through this lock many times on our boat it was exciting for our whole family to stand at the bottom and discover a different view.

If you do get a chance to have a look at the bottom of a drained waterway it’s great to get a different perspective on the canals, learn a little about the maintenance work that the Trust do and check out a fascinating bit of our English industrial heritage.

On the Regents Canal the Trust have drained around 7.5 million gallons of water between Johnson Lock and Limehouse Basin at the moment, to allow the repair of large gaps which have developed in the canal wall. The repairs will cost about quarter of a million pounds and they expect to be finished the week before Christmas.

The open days are from 10:00 am - 4:00 pm and the nearest tube is Mile End (central line). It’s best to travel on foot if you can as parking space is very limited.Turn left out of the station and when you reach the canal turn left on to the towpath and walk about five minutes to Johnson Lock.

For more information visit

Not in London?

To find a winter works open day near you visit

Peggy Melmoth

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