A series of seven locks
Since 1994 Grantham Canal Society has restored five locks at Woolsthorpe by Belvoir. In total there are seven locks, the so-called Woolsthorpe Flight, a climb of a little over 50 feet. Looking upstream from Woolsthorpe Bridge you can see Willis’s Lock (Lock 17), it is close by. Further in the direction of Grantham, out of sight, just around the bend lies Woolsthorpe Top Lock (Lock 18). Downstream from the bridge, you have a beautiful view at Carpenter’s Lock (Lock 16) and further on Woolsthorpe Middle Lock (Lock 15). More downstream, in the direction of Nottingham, three more locks conclude the series of seven: Kingston’s Lock (Lock 14), Stainwith Lock (Lock 13), and Woolsthorpe Bottom Lock (Lock 12). The latter two await restoration.
“Lock 18 was restored by the Grantham Canal Restoration Society and the Waterways Recovery Group, with the fantastic backing of British Waterways, and almost without any help from derelict land grant”, commented Gary Connelly.
Next to Carpenter’s Lock at Woolsthorpe Wharf lies the renovated buildings of the Carpenter’s Shop, home for Grantham Canal Society’s offices. The original picture is taken by Dave Downs. Dave adds: “The old photo of the buildings alongside the canal at Woolsthorpe Wharf was taken by me. I was trying to put a date on when I actually took the photo, and the best I can offer on that is late 1970s, early 1980s. I was brought up in West Bridgford and used to spend many hours fishing the canal alongside Radcliffe Road, as well as the very first section next to the Trent. My family and I regularly walk various stretches of the canal out in the Vale of Belvoir.”
Also two bridges were restored. One of them is Casthorpe Horse Bridge (Bridge 63), a narrow, beautifully arched bridge built of mellow Woolsthorpe brick. Before the restoration, there was put an ugly concrete slab of a bridge in its place, after someone knocked it down. On the restoration, Gary Connelly commented: “The brickwork was a Waterways Recovery Group endeavour and the bridge itself entirely mine. Aided and abetted by various local companies I happily cajoled free of all charges and as reported on local radio at the time.”
With funding from the Derelict land Grant, not only locks 16, 17, and 18 were restored, but also Casthorpe Bridle Bridge was raised again. The new wooden bridle bridge was opened in August 1993. So the old black and white picture is not that old. Hardly anything changed since. The cracks in the brickwork are still there and the scrub on the opposite side of the towpath is more scrubby.
The Grantham Canal runs for 33 miles (53 km) from Grantham through 18 locks to West Bridgford/Nottingham, where it joins the River Trent. It was built primarily for the transportation of coal to Grantham. It opened in 1797 and its profitability steadily increased until 1841. It was then sold to a railway company, declined, and was finally closed in 1936. It was used as a water supply for agriculture, and so most of it remained in water after closure, although bridges were lowered. Since the 1970s, the Grantham Canal Society has been working to restore it.