Work resumes to restore 19th century lock near Melton

Work has resumed to restore a historic lock near Melton which enabled horse-drawn barges to use the Grand Union Canal during the 1800s.

By Nick Rennie
Thursday, 5th May 2022, 12:44 pm
Updated Thursday, 5th May 2022, 1:08 pm
Work on the left hand wall of Thrussington Lock is now well advanced - there is little evidence of the right hand wall but it is expected its base will be found following further excavation
Work on the left hand wall of Thrussington Lock is now well advanced - there is little evidence of the right hand wall but it is expected its base will be found following further excavation

Members of Melton and Oakham Waterways Society (MOWS) are leading the project at Thrussington Lock, which is on the River Wreake between the villages of Thrussington and Hoby.

It’s part of the society’s overall plans to reopen the Melton Navigation, which operated between the town and Syston throughout the 19th century.

The lock was one of 12 along the 15-mile length of the waterway and its bridge is crossed by hundreds of people on summer weekends with it being on the footpath for the Leicestershire Round.

MOWS members Jerry Filor, Bob Fisher and Mick Clowes erecting scaffolding to gain access to the tops of the wall at Thrussington Lock

Members have resumed work on the lock, which was built alongside a mill which is now a private residence, after a winter break.

Society chairman, Mick Clowes, said: “We chose the Thrussington lock for restoration both because the mill owner is very supportive of our work and also the fact that the thousands of people who walk the Leicestershire Round every year will be able to see what we are doing.

“We hold regular work parties at various locations along the Navigation and are always keen to welcome new volunteers.”

The lock helped horse-drawn barrages gain a height of 6ft 3in on their upstream journey to Melton, carrying mainly carry coal and building materials and picking up agricultural produce for the return journey.

MOWS volunteers cleaning bricks to repair the walls of Thrussington Lock

When society volunteers began work on the restoration two years ago, little could be seen of the lock which was hidden by vegetation and large sections of the one remaining wall had collapsed.

Work is now well underway on restoring the wall with bricks reclaimed from the bottom of the lock.

Little can be seen of the other wall as it was used by the army’s Royal Engineers for explosives practice in 1938 but it is thought the base will be uncovered when further excavation takes place.

We reported earlier this year that the MOWS group’s desire to reopen the Melton Navigation would see vessels travelling once again through the heart of the town, including boats for hire and cruise trips as a tourist attraction.