Saturday, 20 August 2011

Foxton Locks: lifting the spirits

The canals in Leicestershire run literally in the middle of nowhere. That’s why Foxton Locks, the engineering feat on the waterway to Market Harborough, is not right outside a busy village but in the middle of beautiful rolling countryside dotted with farms. The view from the top is pleasing.

The structures at the Locks also testify of failure. Of a failure to compete with railways. Even if the Thomas lift, a canal boat lift, had been constructed to speed up the movement of commercial boats, it managed to run only for ten years. After 1911 it was left to rust and rut. The Partnership at the site has been doing sterling work with Lottery Heritage funding repairing buildings and constructing walkways and a viewing platform. The money has paid for clearing the docks and cutting trees in the Thomas lift area and presenting it for the public.

However, the Partnership aims at reconstructing the lift into working order. Although I understand this from the local point of view, it is a pity if the ruins that are evidence of past events – and failure – are lost from full view in the process. This is an age-old problem in heritage: to preserve the original features as they are or to reconstruct to show how they were in their heyday? Different coloured building materials will probably ensure that the difference between the original and the new is underlined – and a working boat lift will probably be an awesome sight.

No comments:

Post a Comment