Who pulled out the plug? Barges grounded after lock paddles left open

Who pulled out the plug? Canal barges are left high and dry after boater left paddles open at a lock

  • Barges aground after a boater leaves a lock door open and water drains away
  • Paddles and the lock gates control the level of the water in the lock 
  • Incident was not malicious but because the boater was rushing through a lock

Stranded on the mud, these canal barges were left high and dry after a boater left the paddles open at a lock.

A stretch of the Kennet and Avon Canal in Wiltshire was reduced to little more than a puddle after the water drained away.

A spokesman for the Canal and River Trust, which is responsible for waterways in England and Wales, said the incident was not malicious. The boater was ‘rushing’ and accidentally left the paddles up.

‘The lock paddles work like a plug on a bath in allowing water in and out of the locks,’ the spokesman told the BBC.

Baregs are high and dry after a boater accidentally drained a stretch of the Kennet and Avon Canal after leaving a lock door open 

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Locks along the canal are used to lift or lower boats from one level to another.

The paddles and the lock gates control the level of the water in the lock, allowing it to rise and fall so boats can be lifted or lowered.

The paddles were left open at Lock 18 near the Barge pub at Seend. As only one stretch of canal was affected, the Trust was able to restore water levels.

‘We became aware first thing this morning and our team set to work to restore the water levels,’ a spokesman told the Wiltshire Gazette and Herald.

How it should look. The drained canal was an accident caused by a boater in a rush and was not malicious

‘The levels returned to normal within a few hours. There wasn’t really any impact to boaters or wildlife that we are aware of.

‘We managed to fill the canal up fairly quickly and the fish either swam further down the canal with the flow of water or remained in the pool of water left behind.’ The lock paddles were also left open in 2011 and ‘small fish were stranded in the muddy puddles left behind as the water receded’, according to passer-by Timothy Hiss.

The Kennet and Avon Canal is an 87-mile waterway linking the River Thames at Reading to the River Avon in Bath.

It was originally opened in 1810, but gradually fell into decline after the Great Western Railway was built.

The waterway was completely restored by volunteers and officially reopened by the Queen in August 1990.


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