Prescott Channel

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Prescott Channel
Prescott Channel.jpg
The Prescott Channel in July 2006, with cultivated fig tree
Specifications
Locks1
StatusOpen
Navigation authorityCanal & River Trust
History
Date of act1930
Date closed1960s
Date restored2009
Geography
Connects to Bow Back Rivers
The cranes mark the construction site of the Three Mills Lock. Site of Three Mills Lock.jpg
The cranes mark the construction site of the Three Mills Lock.

The Prescott Channel was built in 193035 as part of a flood relief scheme for the River Lee Navigation in the East End of London, England, and was named after Sir William Prescott, the then chairman of the Lee Conservancy Board. [1] Rubble from the demolished Euston Arch was used in 1962 to improve the channel, [2] which forms part of the Bow Back Rivers.

Contents

Details

Three Mills Lock is a lock in the channel to allow passage of freight for the London 2012 Olympics by a process of canalisation (with the result of stopping the tidal flow) on the channel and the River Lee northwards. It was constructed between March 2007 [3] [4] and June 2009. [5] The project was credited with offering additional benefits:-

"As well as helping barges carrying construction materials and recyclables between Stratford and the River Thames, the lock will also create new opportunities for leisure boats, water taxis, trip boats and floating restaurants."

A major benefit for British Waterways was the increased value of the land which it holds in areas no longer subject to flooding, [6] which it was expected would exceed the cost of the project.

The lock is 62 metres long, 8 metres wide and 2.4 metres deep, and can hold two 350 tonne barges (other locks on the Lower Lee limited barges to about 120 tonnes). [1] It was designed by Tony Gee and Partners and built by Volker Stevin. [7]

On 2 June 2008, work on the channel brought up a 2,200-pound (1 t) Hermann Second World War time bomb. Residents were evacuated, tube and rail services were disrupted, and flights from London City Airport were curtailed during the emergency. The 67-year-old, booby-trapped bomb was finally made safe, after five days, in a controlled explosion that threw 400 tonnes of sand into the air. Major Matt Davies, of the Army Bomb disposal unit said "If it had gone off in wartime there would have been large fragments up to a mile away which could have destroyed buildings and sewers". He added "This is the biggest unexploded bomb we have found in central London." [8]

In 2009, again as part of the project to build the lock, 29 stones from the Euston Arch were raised from the river bed and presented to the Euston Arch Trust. One stone had already been salvaged in 1994 by Dan Cruickshank, as part of a BBC Television programme called 'One Foot in the Past'.

Criticisms of Canalisation

Three Mills Lock was delivered ten months behind the planned schedule, which severely limited its usefulness to the builders of the various Olympic Park venues. A further planned use was for the delivery of materials for the Crossrail project. [9] However the lock has in fact rarely been used by freight barges.

In August 2013, a long period of hot dry weather followed by heavy rain washed polluted road run-off water into the Lower Lea, causing deoxygenation of the water. The role of the canalisation of the Bow Back Rivers in and around the Olympic Park, with its consequences for tidal flow have been implicated in the considerable levels of fish kill which resulted from the incident. [10]

See also

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Three Mills Lock

Three Mills Lock, also known as the Prescott Lock is a lock on the Prescott Channel on the River Lea in London. The project was led by British Waterways and the lock officially opened on 5 June 2009.

Three Mills Wall River Weir

Three Mills Wall River Weir is a weir on the Bow Back Rivers, in Mill Meads in the London Borough of Newham, England, near to Three Mills. It was built in 2009, when the Bow Back Rivers were refurbished to make them a key feature of the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, and maintains water levels through much of the park in conjunction with the Three Mills Lock and sluice on the Prescott Channel.

Hackney Cut

The Hackney Cut is an artificial channel of the Lee Navigation built in England in 1769 by the River Lea Trustees to straighten and improve the Navigation. It begins at the Middlesex Filter Beds Weir, below Lea Bridge, and is situated in the (modern) London Borough of Hackney. When built it contained two pound locks and a half-lock, but was rebuilt to handle larger barges in the 1850s, and now only Old Ford Lock, which is actually a duplicated pair, remains.

Carpenters Road Lock

Carpenter's Road Lock is a rising radial lock in the London Borough of Newham, near Marshgate Lane in Stratford, England. It is located on the Bow Back Rivers and was constructed in 1933/34. It is the only lock in Britain with rising radial gates at both ends. British Waterways were hoping to restore it as part of the upgrade to Bow Back Rivers which took place for the 2012 Summer Olympics, but the gantries which enabled the gates to be raised were demolished to accommodate a wide bridge giving access to the main stadium. After the Games, most of the overbridge was removed. Funding for the restoration of the lock was in place by early 2016, and it is expected to be brought back into use in 2017.

References

  1. 1 2 Notes and News (April 2007) (Greater London Industrial Archaeology Society)
  2. Euston Arch found at bottom of river, The Times (4 June 1994).
  3. East End rivers set for upgrade (BBC News)
  4. "Waterways face new Olympian task". BBC News. 6 April 2008. Retrieved 22 May 2010.
  5. "Waterway revived as Olympic route", BBC News 5 June 2009
  6. British Waterways (August 2006). "Prescott Channel Water Control Structure Project Explanatory Statement" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 19 February 2012. Retrieved 14 October 2009.
  7. British Waterways press release: New lock provides sustainable legacy for London
  8. "Hermann" the German bomb says farewell with a bang—after 67 years (East London Advertiser, 6 June 2008) accessed 9 June 2008
  9. "Testing the Water Archived 29 October 2013 at the Wayback Machine " (Construction Manager, February 2010) accessed 11 August 2013.
  10. "Fish killed in the River Lea. Pushed to their limits by environmental mismanagement" (Martin Slavin, Gamesmonitor, July 2013) accessed 11 August 2013.

Other sources