Plain sail­ing as key lock opens af­ter £3.6m re­furb

Kent Messenger Maidstone - - NEWS - By David Gazet dgazet@thek­m­ @DavidGazetKM

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

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