ANOTHER FIRST FOR ANT'S TRAIL-BLAZING LADY LOCK KEEPER
AVON Navigation Trust’s trailblazing lady lock keeper enjoyed another first when the charity’s engineering team beat the floods to complete its biggest project in years bang on time.
The Wyre Piddle-based Trust (ANT) celebrated the end of the major infrastructure project by launching a new tradition in the form of a ceremonial lock key painted in its blue and yellow colours.
The handover of the key to Tewkesbury’s Avon Lock lady Nic Lancaster signalled it was now back in her keeping after the mammoth three month makeover at the major Avon gateway.
Now each lock will have its own dedicated key and post work handover ceremony when appropriate.
“It’s good to start a new ANT tradition and this was a very apt project to kick it off because there was a lot to celebrate,” says Chief Executive Clive Matthews.
“The team pulled off a minor miracle by making sure the lock reopening was right on schedule despite the site being wiped out by a pre Christmas flood, which set other non ANT river projects months adrift.”
Clive and his team had already leapt to river users’ rescue twice, first when they swiftly switched the failing hydraulic paddle to manual to avoid having to close the busiest lock on the river in high season.
Then planned emergency repairs in early 2016 were thwarted by a series of floods. But the team repaired the hydraulics for the season ready for the major repairs after the lock dewatering, which is usually only done once every 25 years.
Work included replacing all the paddles, the full refurbishment of all hydraulics, repairing the lock chamber, repairing and sprucing up all the concrete walkways plus refurbishing and painting all the gates.
Nic, who became ANT’s first full time lady lock keeper in 2015, knew exactly how hard the team worked to hand it back in shipshape form for the first boaters’ through, because she had a bird’s eye view.
The Tewkesbury-born lady, who came home after getting a degree in Coastal Zone Management, lives with stained glass artist husband Pete in the lock keeper’s cottage on site.
“The ANT people are the best and all the people who come through here are lovely and happy because they’re on their boats,” beams Nic.
“I’ve landed the job from heaven and I laugh and smile my way through the day.”
Avon Lock keeper Nic Lancaster receives the ceremonial key, now hanging proudly in her hut, from ANT Chief Executive Clive Matthews, watched by the engineering team.