A VITAL replacement of four giant safety gates on the Gloucester and Sharpness Canal is being completed this month, with the new 12 tonne oak structures taking the place of the gates which have kept guard along the waterway for decades.

The Canal and River Trust is investing £300,000 in the project.

Two of the super-sized gates at Parkend have already been replaced, with a further two being replaced this week in Purton.

They are part of series of gates along the canal that form a safety barrier in the event of water escaping from the canal in an emergency.

If this happens the gates will close automatically to ensure flood risk is controlled for the area.

Unlike the large majority of the nation’s canals, the Gloucester and Sharpness does not have any locks, which typically provide this essential safety feature.

At Parkend divers helped secure the old gates to a crane so they could be winched out, before helping to fit each of the bespoke new gates as they are safely lowered into position in the canal.

Canal and River Trust waterway manager, Nick Worthington, said: “These giant gates are really important to making sure we can control the water in the canal in the event of an emergency.

“Fortunately they haven’t had to be used in a real scenario for a number of years, but with the canal being 17 miles long and up to five metres deep, that is millions of litres of water, so we need to be prepared and the gates need to be in top condition.

Mr Worthington said the canal was great for the local area, especially as the busy period of spring and summer was still ahead of them.

For more information about the Gloucester & Sharpness Canal, visit www.canalrivertrust.org.uk