Archaeological Company Board To Restore Canal Locks To Their Victorian

Thursday, 17 June 2010

Canal locks on the Monmouthshire network are being brought back to working order for the fist time since the 1940s as part of a joint restoration and educational project.


Two sets of locks on the system known as the Cefn Flight of Fourteen Locks are being restored to their former glory following a 70 year hiatus, courtesy of a £1m project financed primarily by the Heritage Lottery Fund.  


Mike Kimber is a project manager with Headland Archaeology, the company enlisted by Newport City Council to help the authority restore two pairs of canal locks on the Crumlin arm of the network. He said: "The Cefn Flight of Fourteen Locks was last used by commercial traffic in the 1930s, and has since gradually fallen into disrepair with many of the locks filled in with debris, making navigation impossible. When the project is completed it is hoped that this part of the network will be returned to full working order for tourists and a new generation of local people to enjoy."


The Education Through Restoration (ETR) remit of the project requires a focus on education, which will be provided at the Fourteen Locks Canal Centre. The centre provides tourists, and waterway enthusiasts alike, with an insight into the history of the canal network and its role within the industrial revolution.


Tom Maloney, Fourteen Locks Canal Centre education and access consultant, said: "The Education Through Restoration Project at Fourteen Locks presents a brilliant opportunity for schools to experience and learn about a unique aspect of canal history at first hand. There are also many opportunities to develop the 'wider curriculum', such as 'thinking skills',  'environmental study' and much, much more."                                                                                                                  


The Flight of Fourteen Locks was completed in 1798 and was used to transport coal, limestone and iron to Newport. By the 1850s when rail became more prominent, the canal's use became more limited.


The Cefn Flight restoration project is founded on a partnership between Newport City Council and The Monmouthshire, Brecon and Abergavenny Canals Trust (MBACT). The project has secured £700,000 pounds of funding from The Heritage Lottery Fund with Cadw, Inland Waterways Association, Cadw, Landfill Tax and Newport City Council providing the remainder of the funding.


Mike Kimber added: "The archaeological works are in their early stages, but we have already learned a great deal about the sluice gates that fed water to the locks, and about the structures that supported the lock opening mechanisms. They have a number of features that make them unique in the British canal network, including a system designed to manage the flow of water, and the extensive survival of the original stone in which the canal was built." 


Headland's £30,000 brief within the overall project involved carrying out a topographic survey, making recordings of the locks before and during restoration work, and carry out monitoring of excavations and ground works.


Headland's UK flagship projects include the site of the Scottish Parliament, the Edinburgh Trams Project and Europe's largest windfarm south of Glasgow. Current projects include Hereford's Cathedral Close and Worcester Magistrates Court.


The Cefn Flight project is expected to be completed later this year. The archaeological consultant for the project is Halcrow. For more information on the restoration project visit





Issued on behalf of Headland Archaeology by Beattie Communications.





Notes to editors:


The Cefn Flight of Fourteen Locks is a Scheduled Ancient Monument and is listed by Cadw. The locks are important due to their design, the way in which they were built to climb the hillside. They were constructed in closely spaced pairs to minimize water wastage. In many areas the natural ground surface was built up by imported materials to allow ponds, spill weirs and spillways to be constructed on the hillside. The canal was built of stone, and the extensive survival of this original building material throughout the Flight of Fourteen Locks is rare among British canals. These features make the flight unique in the Welsh and UK canal network.


  • Headland Archaeology Ltd was formed in 1996 and is a commercial company committed to serving the development industry, with offices in Glasgow, Edinburgh, Cork and Galway.
  • The company employs over 100 staff, works on projects of all sizes and has the right people and resources, including a range of in-house specialists.
  • Headland provides cost effective solutions to the construction industry with a focus on transport and infrastructure, property development, power and aggregates.
  • Work undertaken includes desk based research, environmental impact survey, planning advice, project design, testing, excavation, reporting and dissemination.
  • Specialist expertise includes maritime & military archaeology, historic buildings, geophysical survey, artefacts, environmental archaeology and animal and human bones.
  • Flagship projects in the UK and Ireland include:
  • - M80 and M74 road projects
  • - New Forth Crossing at Kincardine
  • - Clyde Windfarm
  • - Edinburgh Tram Project
  • - Scottish Parliament, Edinburgh
  • - Royal Bank of Scotland Headquarters, Edinburgh
  • - A1 & A4/5 Northern Ireland
  • - Carlow By-pass
  • - N9 / 10 motorway
  • - N6 Galway to Ballinasloe Road Scheme
  • - N7 Nenagh to Limerick High Quality Dual Carriageway
  • - Shannon LNG
  • - N25 Waterford By-pass
  • - N25 New Ross Bypass
  • - Metro North in Dublin
  • Scottish office addresses:
  • - Edinburgh - 13 Jane Street, EH6 5HE
  • - Glasgow - 10 Payne Street, G4 0LF