Appley Lock

Date: September 2017
Late last year  Bill Froggatt, from the Canal & River Trust, contacted the Society with the suggestion that one of the locks on the Douglas Navigation may still survive, buried under land owned by the Appley Bridge Community Association. The lock is shown on the  Canal Survey Map of 1802.He thought that discovering the lock’s dimensions might shed light on the types of boats that used the Navigation. The land in question lies west of Appley Lane, between the river and the canal. Originally owned by the nearby ‘Lino’ works, this was once a derelict industrial site as can be seen from the 1960s aerial photo.The land was given to the Appley Bridge Community Association in the late 80’s to be used for recreational purposes. After many years being used as a dumping ground by the factory, like many areas of the northwest, it has now been transformed into pleasant woodland. Referred to as The Meadows, the Association maintains its paths and fencing. They are also keen to locate the river lock which could provide a very interesting feature for The Meadows. With this in mind, Bill Froggatt contacted Ian Miller of the GMAAS to see if a GPS survey could pinpoint its location. In January 2017 with help from his colleague, Richard Ker, Ian carried out a survey using coordinates from an overlay of the 1802 map. Two metal spikes were inserted to indicate its likely position. It was only in August however, that we were able offer our help with a Ground Penetrating Radar (GPR) survey. Volunteers organised by the nearby Fir Tree Fisheries help to clear the ground which enabled Andy Wilcock and I (with the help of Paul Roper from the Association) to carry out 3 scans, using a 2D GPR machine on loan from Sygma Solutions. The results were far from conclusive; it did however reveal the possibility of the original surface lying just 2 metres below the present level. Since then, with more help from Paul , we have been able to complete a plan of the site showing the locations of the scans and the suspected line of the lock channel (see below). In the next couple of weeks a site visit is planned and a presentation to the Association. It is hoped that this will allow a bid for funding to be put forward so that a trial trench can be dug. Further progress will depend on the results of this dig.