Council seeks funding for Moneypenny’s project

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The Heritage Lottery Fund has been asked to back the refurbishment of Moneypenny’s Lock on the Newry Canal near Portadown.

The new Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Council wrote to the organisation recently, asking them to consider funding a repair project costing over £56,000.

The problem dates back to some time after the Newry Canal was abandoned in 1949.

The lock gates at Moneypenny’s became impossible to open due to the build-up of silt on the upstream side.

To remedy this problem, which was exacerbating flooding upstream, the lock gates were destroyed using explosives. This also completely destroyed the lock cill.

When volunteers from the Inland Waterways Association of Ireland (IWAI) were clearing away vegetation, they uncovered a major undermining problem with the stonework of the lock. It was determined that the removal of the cill in the 1950s had led to serious erosion of the bed of the lock which now left the stone walls undermined and in a vulnerable condition.

To mimic the effect of a restored cill, the IWAI volunteers installed a temporary sandbag cill and while it lasted, this demonstrated that a restored cill would not have any adverse effect on water levels on farmland upstream. This information provided data to Rivers Agency which then enabled them to give their consent.

In 2014, an engineering consultant was appointed to carry out a survey of the lock and to define a method for re-instating the cill and lock bed. The report was completed last month and gives recommendations for repair and some estimated costings for the work. The consultant had liaised with both Rivers Agency and NI Environment Agency, both of which have indicated their consent for the work to take place.

The cost of replacing the cill and the associated remedial works has now been estimated at £56,650.

The Heritage Lottery Fund is due to make a response this week on whether the funding will be available.