Will the ' Dreaded Aston' be finally put right?

Published: Thursday, 28 February 2019

WORK is well in progress on what has become about the worst lock on the system to operate—the broad Aston Lock on the Trent & Mersey Canal.

a1Aston1Speaking to one of the workers on site on Tuesday we were told that indeed the gates were sloping inwards too far causing them to be so difficult to move, but that this was going to be rectified.

Better balance

The quoins, we were told were at present being re-set to give the gates better balance, then when done the size of the new gates would be measured with the measurements sent off and then four new gates constructed and then fitted.

Whilst waiting for the new gates to arrive, that will take three weeks, work will continue on maintenance to the lock chamber whilst it is empty, but it is admitted, the opening date may be delayed.


Some 20 years ago the gates on the lock had long steel beams and the gates were well balanced, but for some reason these were replaced by shorter wooden beams and new gates fitted, that were unbalanced and seemed to get worse as the years went by.

Though Aston was the worst lock of the 'dreaded six' to operate, the others, with the exception of the small lock at Shardlow have either unbalanced gates or exceptionally stiff paddles, or as in the case of Stenson Lock, the gates would not fully open in addition to being heavy and with stiff paddles. So much so in fact that we had been told by boaters the expected volunteers were 'missing', as we discovered ourselves when passing through last September.

aston twoTerrible reputation

These six (or should it be five?) have a terrible reputation among boaters and one of the reasons for the mass exodus from Sawley Marina to Mercia Marina when it opened. Our friends too, had had enough of the locks and left, though that time onto the Leicester Section.

And again friends, where the lady does not like steering but operates the locks, have been to see other marinas on the Trent & Mersey Canal and will move when their contract expires at Sawley, as she struggles with those locks and often needs assistance.


The above photograph shows two ladies struggling to close an Aston Lock gate, that was impossible for one.

Should Aston, the worst of those locks be put right, at least it will perhaps encourage more use, especially if Canal & River Trust have the sense to rectify the faults of the others.