Plain sailing as key lock opens after £3.6m refurb
After almost 10 months and £3.6 million pounds spent, works to refurbish East Farleigh Lock have finally been completed.
The first boats were able to use the key access on Friday and should be able to continue to do so for the next 100 years, according to the Environment Agency (EA).
But the project has gone through choppy waters after a major structural fault was discovered with a section of wall behind the left hand lock gate, setting the project back almost three months while a large section was demolished and rebuilt.
Works were further frustrated by a pair of nesting wagtails who forced workers to down tools on part of the site for several weeks.
Mark Smurthwaite, chairman of the Medway River Users Association, said: “The lock was a major rebuild and we have to congratulate the EA and its contractor for a job well done .
“Considering it had been in use for 100 years prior to this rebuild we have had so much use out of it and now we hope the next 100 years will give the same result.
“Many boats have been using the lock over the opening weekend and there is an official opening including our local MP Helen Grant and the mayor of Maidstone on September 2.
“This will be combined with the 398th annual Mayor Court of Survey Cruise.”
The lock is the second boaters arrive at if visiting from the tidal river and heading upstream and while closed many river users were prevented from continuing up to the Medway towns for Rochester’s sweeps festival.
The delay also affected the Kentish Lady, which ferries passengers on tours up the waterway, and the Kingfisher Medway Trust which has a river boat designed especially for elderly and disabled people from across the south east.
An EA spokesman said they were pleased to confirm the reopening, adding: “The work will ensure the stability of this structure for the next 80 to 100 years and includes a new fish pass, enabling greater movement of fish in the Upper Medway.
“There are still a few smaller works to complete, such as landscaping, but these will not impact on the opening of the lock to the public.”
Mark Smurthwaite and right, East Farleigh Lock